The benefits of learning sign Language - Hear Me Out! [CC] (2022)

As someone who is considered to be fairly multi-lingual (with English, Arabic and Spanish at various levels), I’d like to think that I understand the process and the benefits that comes with learning languages.

And that amazing feeling when you can converse in those languages too and connect with that person.

But as someone who is currently going through the process of learning British Sign Language via ‘My BSL Journey’, it requires a slightly different learning process but still comes with a rich learning experience and a fantastic skill to have.

And this is regardless of which one you want to focus on (BSL, ASL, Auslan, etc.).

So with the help of my experiences, plus from learning through other people, below are the benefits of learning sign languages for hearing people.

Click on the link below to jump to a particular section of the page:

  1. Gives Your Brain a Good Workout
  2. It’s Around Us All the Time
  3. Communicate with Babies
  4. Communicate with Animals
  5. Boosts Your Communication Skills
  6. Become Better at Spelling
  7. Helps You To Become a Better Listener
  8. You Become More Diverse
  9. Becomes Easier to Learn Another New Language
  10. Improves Your Body Language Skills
  11. Introduces You to the Issue of Deaf Awareness
  12. It Can Be Used All the Time
  13. Be Able to Help When Required
  14. It’s a Beautiful Language

1. Gives your brain a good workout

Learning any languages will help to stimulate your brain and give it a good workout. Sign languages are no different.

By that, I mean it can enhances its cognition, your creative thinking, brain functionality, memory, spatial awareness, mental rotation skills and more.

And just like when you ride a bicycle, you will never forget it.

2. It’s around us all the time

It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to get an understanding of how many people communicates in their regional sign language.

But just because you don’t see it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not happening. Conversations conducted in sign languages are happening around us all the time.

According to Modern Language Association, American Sign Language is the 3rd most studied modern/foreign language at colleges and universities in the U.S. It is also the 3rd or 4th most popular language in the U.S. after English and Spanish.

I bet you’ve never thought about that sign language as being a “competition” to spoken languages.

The benefits of learning sign Language - Hear Me Out! [CC] (1)

The Deaf community sometimes goes about their business unnoticed, but it’s present throughtout the world and around you.

3. Introduces you to the deaf Culture and community

When you learn a new oral language, you get to learn a lot about the country, the culture and the people of the country of that particular language.

It’s like a by-product of learning a language.

It’s the same thing when it comes to learning sign language, as there is such a thing as a Deaf culture and Deaf community with its own rich history too.

The benefits of learning sign Language - Hear Me Out! [CC] (2)

4. Meet people and make new friends

And as part of being involved with different individual within the Deaf community, you can also build relationships with new people.

Failing that, if you are learning sign language with other people, you can learn together and get to know each other, online and offline.

(Video) 'Which sign language should I learn first?' - My thoughts [CC]

The benefits of learning sign Language - Hear Me Out! [CC] (3)

Many online and offline courses and workshops tend to have a community within a dedicated Facebook Page so that you can share your experiences and journey together.

5. Improves your peripheral vision and reaction time

According to a study by University of Sheffield, sign language users have better peripheral vision and reaction time.

Because it’s so visual-focused, you are more alert and your “visual field response” will benefit from this, something which is is highly beneficial in many sports and even driving.

These same scientists have found that “deaf people have exceptional visual abilities that hearing adults do not”.

When speaking in sign language, it’s not just about looking at the hand gestures but it’s also about the facial expressions, lip reading and also observing the body language.

But you can’t watch that all at the same time, hence why your peripheral vision is important and is exercised frequently.

6. Communicate with babies

You can’t expect babies to talk to you, but it is easy to have some basic communications with the help of sign language.

And I’m not talking about having conversations about politics and whose turn is it to take out the trash. Rather, it’s about grasping some of the basic signs for everyday objects and concepts like “milk”, “hungry”, “sleepy”, “teddy bear”, “more”, “play”, etc.

Infants from the age of 6 months of age can begin to grasp the basic signs and research have shown that demonstrating basic signs to hearing babies can enhance their cognitive development, may lead to a richer, more positive interaction and bond between parent and child.

And many scientists believe that learning multiple languages at a young age will allow your brain to make room for more languages too.

The benefits of learning sign Language - Hear Me Out! [CC] (4)

7. Communicate with animals

Yes, you read that right. Animals!

Now let me clarify; I don’t meant that you can have conversation nor am I expecting you to teach your dog to sign to you (though, if you can do that, you’ll be rich).

Not many people realise that animals can also be deaf too. They’re not exactly going to tell you that either.

But many people have had success of teaching their dogs some basic sign languages and also build a bond with them at the same time.

This deaf dog and his owner, who is also deaf, have an indescribable bond 🐾 pic.twitter.com/VtSrZ8nLyG

— NowThis (@nowthisnews) June 11, 2019

8. Boosts your communication skills

Naturally, if you are able to converse fluently in sign language, you have overcome the communication barrier.

But if you are still in the learning phase, you can still overcome the communication barrier, provided that you are patient.

One time I was communicating with a Deaf individual, I didn’t know what was the sign for “business” as I wanted to say that I run my own business when he asked me what do I do.

But since I didn’t know the sign, I asked by making sure he can lipread me and he then showed me the sign for “business”.

(Video) Why you should learn sign language from deaf people? [CC]

Even if that wasn’t possible, I would have either finger-spelled the word using the alphabets in BSL, or I would have written it down by phone or paper.

9. Become better at spelling

Did you know that you will become better at spelling if you know sign language?

Even though there is a sign for almost every single words, for those that doesn’t have a word, or perhaps you don’t know the words for it ( like my own personal example above), you will need to fingerspell it.

The same applies when introduced to a new name; be it of a person, location, product, brand, etc.

If there isn’t a sign for them or you don’t know, knowing the spelling is useful as you will need to fingerspell those words or at the very least, write them down.

The benefits of learning sign Language - Hear Me Out! [CC] (5)

10. Helps you to become a better listener

Speaking in sign language requires you to fully focus and concentrate on the person speaking to you. Not only eye contacts is very important but you can’t possibly sign words without physically looking at that word.

And it’s not just about the hand gestures, but it’s also to focus on their facial expressions and body movements that are as important in sign language as your hands are.

By constantly focusing on the person speaking to you in sign language, it will make you a better listener.

Because when speaking orally, it is easy to look elsewhere, use the phone while speaking, have your back towards them, etc.

And that’s just not nice, is it?

11. You become more diverse

Many businesses say that they are inclusive and diverse. But are they really?

If you have knowledge of sign language, you will reach and connection will extend to the Deaf community and it prepares you for handling the language and communication barriers.

It’s cliché, but sign language can help you and your workplace to become more diverse.

The benefits of learning sign Language - Hear Me Out! [CC] (6)

12. Boosts your business and creates more opportunities

The most obvious profession that allows you to use sign language regularly is to be an interpreter. However, even basic sign language can go a long way to serve your customers.

“I learned sign language because of passengers. Talking to someone in their language, you’re just able to make that connection.” – Courtney, United Flight Attendant.

Little did she know the “epic” impact that’d have on @JohnMaucere, a Deaf comedian. https://t.co/c1IHvZ0rS6 pic.twitter.com/kdQHLcq9kj

— United Airlines (@united) May 10, 2019

And from learning sign languages, you will also learn basic etiquettes and some of them are mentioned above, like making good eye contacts, connecting with the Deaf culture and meeting new people.

Which is why businesses that focuses on the issue of deaf awareness are more likely to be able to connect with their d/Deaf customers and clients better.

(Video) My BSL Journey - Episode #4: Why I'm Learning BSL [CC]

13. Becomes easier to learn another sign language

I have always been told that I pick up languages very quickly.

I’m not sure if I buy the logic of “having the knack for it”, being talented or being a natural polyglot.

What I can definitely say from experience is that if you learn one new language, it is easier to learn another.

And if you already know know an extra language on top of your native language, then you may also have a headstart in adding more languages to your portfolio.

So why not sign language?

14. Improves your body language skills

As mentioned earlier, speaking in sign language is not just about using your hands and that’s it.

There are other factors, like making eye contacts, facial expressions, gestures and other aspects of body languages that are important in communicating.

By possessing these positive body languages, it will allow you to better connect with another person, regardless of whether it’s with a d/Deaf person or a hearing person.

Because the alternative is a negative body language, like looking at your phone or looking around you whilst talking to someone.

Rude!

15. Introduces you to the issue of deaf awareness

Learning sign language will naturally connect you to d/Deaf people and will give you a better understanding of the challenges that we face.

And that naturally means you will learn more about deaf awareness and perhaps be interested in raising deaf awareness too.

16. It can be used all the time

Think about it. If you are in somewhere noisy, like a bar or a nightclub, you can communicate in sign language.

If you are far away from one another but still able to see each other, like if you are at a pub sitting down and wants to order for a friend on the other side of the room, you can sign away.

Or maybe you are scuba-diving underwater with a friend, you can just sign to each other.

Those days of needing to shout in your ear above a noisy environment is potentially over.

17. Be able to help when required

Due to various barriers in modern society, d/Deaf people faces daily challenges in the hearing world that we all live in.

So if you happen to be at a restaurant or a shop, and you spot a possible communication barrier between two people, you could assist.

If you are volunteering at an organisation and you spot someone who is alone because they are the only deaf person, you can make them feel comfortable.

Even in your own job, you can overcome any communication barriers with your d/Deaf customers by speaking in sign language.

18. It’s a beautiful language

It’s expressive. It’s fascinating. It’s unique. It’s graceful.

(Video) Why I will never learn oral languages again [CC]

It’s beautiful.

I have my own personal reasons on why it’s important to learn sign language. But looking at the points above, it is easy to see that there are many benefits from learning it anyway.

Too many have I seen comments online or heard from people who says that “I would love to learn sign language” or “I wish I can communicate in sign language”.

My advice? First, think about why you want to do it.

Second, if it’s for the right reasons and you are genuinely interested in it, then just do it. Find local classes or online courses from accredited and credible places, practice a lot and connect with d/Deaf people.

Like anything new, the first time you do anything, it will not be very good. But don’t worry, it happens to all of us, even for me.

If you have been thinking about learning sign languages, what is stopping you?

Let me know in the comment below.

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  • About
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Ahmed Khalifa

Founder & Director at Hear Me Out! [CC]

Working on bridging the gap between the hearing and deaf worlds by raising deaf awareness via public speaking, workshops and the contents (blog, podcast and videos) on this site.

Latest posts by Ahmed Khalifa (see all)

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(Video) Should Hearing People Create Videos of Themselves Signing? [CC]

FAQs

What are the advantages of learning sign language? ›

Being proficient in ASL allows you to communicate with a wide range of hearing, hard of hearing, and deaf individuals—including students in mainstream and deaf school or university programs and deaf or hard of hearing residents and business people in your community.

Why is sign language important to hearing? ›

Sign languages are an extremely important communication tool for many deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Sign languages are the native languages of the Deaf community and provide full access to communication.

How does sign language help communication? ›

Research shows that sign language speeds up speech development, reduces frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves before they know how to talk, increases parent-child bonding, and lets babies communicate vital information, such as if they are hurt or hungry.

What does sign language do to your brain? ›

The parts of the brain active in sign language processing are very similar to those involved in spoken language processing. When we compare the brain scans of deaf people watching sign language and hearing people listening to speech, there is significant overlap, especially in the core areas.

What are 5 interesting facts about sign language? ›

Five Interesting Facts Most People Don't Know About Sign Language
  • It's the fourth most used language in the UK. ...
  • Different countries have their own versions of sign language. ...
  • Sign language uses more than just hand gestures. ...
  • Many deaf people have 'name signs' ...
  • Sign language isn't as difficult to learn as it looks.
23 Sept 2021

What skills does sign language give you? ›

5 of the most powerful benefits of learning sign language
  • Stronger bond between parents and infants. ...
  • Improved spatial reasoning. ...
  • Enhanced ability to interpret body language. ...
  • Better reaction times and peripheral vision. ...
  • Long-term cognitive benefits of learning sign language.
19 Jan 2022

How does ASL benefit hearing people? ›

In addition to spelling, ASL also enhances other things in hearing people such as small motor skills, behavior, and widens vocabulary.

What are the benefits of hearing? ›

Healthy hearing results in positive health outcomes, increases social engagement, improves communication, and lowers the risk of depression. It is apparent that quality of life can decrease when the sense of hearing is impaired (see consequences of hearing loss).

Does learning sign language make you smarter? ›

William Dean wrote an article about learning American Sign Language and its benefits. Dean reported that scientific reports have shown that children who have learned American Sign Language at a young average a higher IQ of 8-13 points.

What is interesting about sign language? ›

5) Sign language is based on the idea that sight is the most useful tool a deaf person has to communicate and receive information. Sign language doesn't only use signs to communicate. It uses facial expression, hand movement and position, gestures and body language to communicate.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of sign language? ›

Establishing Communication

Sign language allows deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate quickly and effectively with others who use sign language, or who "sign." Most deaf people use a combination of sign language, lip-reading and written communication to go about their daily lives.

Does sign language improve memory? ›

Comment: People proficient in sign language seem better able to remember unnameable objects than people who don't know how to sign, according to a study in the January issue of Neuropsychology (Vol. 21, No.

Is sign language a life skill? ›

As a life skill, sign language can build bridges and open doors for youth. Do you want to learn about the benefit of a certain life skill that can be utilized in various ways?

What animal learns human sign language? ›

To be clear, gorillas and chimps are the only animals that have so far been taught to use human sign language. But some other animals do seem to use a form of sign language, or at least use gestures to communicate with other species.

What is the most useful sign language? ›

ASL, short for American Sign Language, is the sign language most commonly used by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in the United States.

What is the most important sign language? ›

American Sign language (ASL) is growing in popularity and its the primary language of the Deaf and Hard of hearing in the USA. Its popularity has also expanded to other countries around the world.

Which sign language is most used in the world? ›

One of the most widely used sign languages around the world is Chinese Sign Language (CSL or ZGS), which has up to 20 million users. Brazilian Sign Language has around three million users worldwide, while Indo-Pakistani Sign Language has about 1.8 million users across South Asia.

Which is the best type of sign language to learn? ›

ASL is best. As others have noted, ASL has its origins in French Sign Language (LSF), and then got mixed with some signs from Deaf people of Martha's Vineyard, and some signs from Native Americans. Or learn both if you think you'll be speaking both frequently. There's no reason you have to choose just one.

What is the first thing taught in sign language? ›

Sign Language Alphabet

Learning to sign the alphabet (known as the manual alphabet) is usually the first place to begin. Sign language alphabet: Each of the 26 letters in the English alphabet is represented with a unique sign in American Sign Language (ASL).

Are there any benefits for deaf people? ›

You may be entitled to extra benefits if you are Deaf, Disabled or you have a long-term health condition. There is information about the range of disability-related financial support available on the government's website. If you're on a low income or out of work, you may be able to get Universal Credit.

Can a hearing person learn ASL? ›

Sign language is often used instead of spoken language in Deaf communities, as some people with hearing loss have been brought up solely using sign language to communicate with family or friends. Of course, even those with normal or limited hearing can also learn this wonderful, expressive language!

Do most deaf people know ASL? ›

That's because not all deaf and hard-of-hearing people know sign language. In fact, of the 48 million people in the United States with hearing loss, less than 500,000 — or about 1% — use sign language. Hearing loss is a spectrum, with varying types of loss and communication strategies.

How does hearing affect the brain? ›

“Brain scans show us that hearing loss may contribute to a faster rate of atrophy in the brain,” Lin says. “Hearing loss also contributes to social isolation. You may not want to be with people as much, and when you are you may not engage in conversation as much. These factors may contribute to dementia.”

Why is listening and hearing important? ›

Ears give people the ability to hear, but listening gives people the ability to be here and in the present. Listening makes understanding happen, so that communication is actionable and insightful. While you can't practice how you hear, you can practice and hone the skills for how you listen.

Why is hearing music important? ›

Music can boost the brain's production of the hormone dopamine. This increased dopamine production helps relieve feelings of anxiety and depression. Music is processed directly by the amygdala, which is the part of the brain involved in mood and emotions. It reduces stress.

How fast can you become fluent in sign language? ›

Overall, it can take several years of regular study and practice to become fluent in sign language. It may take from three months to three years to learn sign language. Moreover, it's all about your learning goal setting, and it all depends on your end goal.

Is sign language easy or hard? ›

Sign language is one of the easiest languages to learn. So many of the signs are commonplace gestures. Children pick up on the signs quickly and are eager to use them. The fact that it is easy helps encourage the learning.

How long will it take to learn ASL? ›

Are you thinking about learning sign language? If so, you might be surprised to learn that learning the basics of ASL can take just 60 to 90-hours. By comparison, learning a new spoken language like French can take anywhere from three to six months.

Does using sign language delay speech? ›

Some parents are wary, however – the most frequent question I've come across is, “Will learning sign language delay my child's speech?” The answer is no – learning sign language will not hurt your child's speech development.

What age should you start baby sign language? ›

When should I start baby sign language? Around six to eight months old is a great time to start teaching your baby how to sign. “Babies are typically at a developmental stage where they are curious to communicate and pay more attention to things presented to them,” says Steyns.

Should sign language be taught to everyone? ›

That sign languages are thriving should be welcomed for many reasons, including the cognitive benefits that learning them brings. Several studies have found that hearing people who learn sign languages perform better in tasks requiring spatial transformation abilities – which you might use when taking down directions.

Do deaf people get tired of signing? ›

Listening or concentration fatigue is a little known concept and it does affect deaf children and adults, and people who have to concentrate hard for a long periods of time on signing, listening or lipreading.

Why is sign language so hard? ›

First, ASL is very different from English on every linguistic level from phonological and phonetic to morphological and syntactical. Knowing ASL signs (words) is not the same as knowing the language (ASL). ASL has a grammaticaly rich, complex construction beyond basics.

What is a sign language person called? ›

A signer is a person who can communicate conversationally with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. An interpreter is a person who is not only bilingual but has also received specialized training and credentials to develop the skills and expertise needed to mediate meanings across languages and cultures.

What are the 3 types of sign language? ›

Not a Universal Language

Interestingly, most countries that share the same spoken language do not necessarily have the same sign language as each other. English for example, has three varieties: American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language (BSL) and Australian Sign Language (Auslan).

Does sign language matter which hand? ›

They discovered that in general right- and left-handed signers respond faster when they were watching a right-handed signer. However, left-handed signers responded more quickly to complex two-handed signs made by signers who 'led' with their left hand.

Do dogs know sign language? ›

Dogs have the amazing ability to learn sign language, whether they cannot hear themselves or their owner if deaf. Any type of dog can learn sign language, it will just take some training, patience, and consistency. But, the same goes with teaching a dog to stay, sit, and come with word commands.

Did a gorilla learn sign language? ›

American Sign Language (ASL) was selected by Dr. Penny Patterson as the primary language to teach Koko because of the success that other researchers had with chimpanzees. It turned out to be a good choice, as Koko (and later Michael) learned it quickly. Within just a few weeks the gorillas were using sign combinations.

Can dogs understand humans? ›

The canine ability to comprehend human body language and intonation is amazing. Our dogs know more than just “Sit” or “Stay” or “Walk”. They can learn the meaning of many words and can grasp that meaning even better when we say those words in an appropriate tone.

Are there any advantages to being deaf? ›

You can concentrate better on work between hearing people. You don't have to hear the farts (although you can smell them) You can turn off your hearing aids or cochlear implant whenever you want and have peace. You have better peripheral vision to see everything around.

What is the most useful sign language to learn? ›

Pidgin Signed English (PSE) or Signed English

PSE is the most commonly used sign language in the United States among deaf individuals. The vocabulary is drawn from ASL, however it follows English word order.

What do deaf people gain? ›

In fact, some advocates even speak about "Deaf gain," a communication advantage afforded to those who must use means other than verbal language. The idea is that deaf people have more meaningful and intentional connection because they cannot hear.

Do deaf people have better memory? ›

Abstract. Deaf individuals have been found to score lower than hearing individuals across a variety of memory tasks involving both verbal and nonverbal stimuli, particularly those requiring retention of serial order.

What do deaf people do for fun? ›

Hobbies can range from the dynamic, like parkour, to feeling music using the sound shirt, to calmer pastimes like reading, gardening, or swimming. As more Deaf and hard-of-hearing people explore hobbies based on their interest, they bring diversity to every group.

Which is the easiest sign language? ›

People who are visual learners say ASL is easier and can easily pick up, but non visual learners find that Spanish is easier to pick up than ASL.

How long does it take to learn sign language fluently? ›

Overall, it can take several years of regular study and practice to become fluent in sign language. It may take from three months to three years to learn sign language. Moreover, it's all about your learning goal setting, and it all depends on your end goal.

What is the best age to learn sign language? ›

When to start baby sign language. Typically, most babies can begin signing in the range of 8-12 months of age. Rebelo suggests that interested parents begin using sign language when their baby is 6-8 months old but says not to worry if your child is older since there isn't a magical window that closes.

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