Sign language is becoming more and more prominent in today’s world. If you’re thinking that learning it could be an asset, you’re right! There are many benefits of learning sign language. Mastering it not only allows you to communicate effectively with the deaf community but it can set you apart professionally, as it is a sought-after skill. In this article, we will explore:
- Why learn sign language;
- Facts about sign language;
- The quickest way to learn sign language.
Sign languages around the globe
There are more than 300 different sign languages in use around the world that vary from nation to nation. Check out our chart of the most widespread sign languages by the number of native signers:
If you want to learn international sign language, the most frequently learned ones after ASL (American Sign Language) are CSL (Chinese Sign Language) and BSL (Brazilian Sign Language).
Fun facts about learning international sign language
1. Bad words in sign language: learn the signs!
Looking to learn swear words in sign language? You’ll be glad to know American Sign Language (ASL) contains most of the swear words you would normally find in English! When it comes to the F word, for example, you would hold up your dominant hand, palm facing out, with your index finger and thumb touching to sign it.
2. Helen Keller
When it comes to Helen Keller, one of the first questions that pop into people’s minds is: did Helen Keller learn sign language? Helen Keller was an American author and educator who was blind and deaf and, as such, had to overcome great obstacles in life. She is an important figure in American history, and it’s worth reading all about how did Helen Keller learn sign language.
3. Wells Fargo sign language initiative
Wells Fargo is one of the largest US banks. In 2015, they launched the iconic Wells Fargo learning sign language campaign that featured two deaf young women learning ASL. This initiative was widely applauded and brought the importance of learning sign language to the forefront of social conversation.
4. Gorilla learns sign language
Koko is a gorilla who learned sign language.
- Why: This female gorilla was trained to use sign language to convey her thoughts as part of an apes learning sign language program by researcher psychologist Francine “Penny” Patterson.
- How: A chimpanzee learning sign language, like Koko, would achieve it using methods that one would use to teach human children.
Watch this entertaining video about Koko:
5. Babies learning sign language
Learn sign language for babies: is it possible?
Kidsand even babies can learn to interpret and use sign language,starting as early as when they are 8-10 months old. It has been foundthat babies learn sign language relatively easily. In fact, sincelearning is easier the younger we are, there are many benefits oflearning sign language at an early age.
Learn sign language for kids: how can it be done?
Toteach a young child sign language, you have to start by saying a wordand gesturing it at the same time. Children learning sign language isvery similar to them learning spoken language.
Reasons why you should learn sign language
1. To communicate with millions of people
The most obvious reason to learn sign language and the reason that motivates millions of people worldwide is that it is the best way to communicate with the deaf and hearing impaired.
But did you realize, just how many people worldwide are hearing impaired? Over 5% of the world’s population or 466 million people has disabling hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children).
It is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people – or one in every ten people – will have disabling hearing loss. Currently, in the USA, American Sign Language is the 4th most used language.
2. It makes you smarter
Learning sign language provides all the same benefits as learning a foreign language. Bilingualism of any language (whether signed or spoken) is a great brain booster. It strengthens cognitive function and reasoning, increases memory, attention span, creativity, and communication skills.
Studies show that bilingual students score higher on standardized tests than monolingual students, and secondary language immersion contributes to increased IQ in students.
Furthermore, sign language can be easier to learn than other spoken languages not only for the hearing impaired but also for people with autism, dyslexia, and other learning differences.
3. It gives you a superpower:expanded vision.
Sign language provides all the benefits of bilingualism but also bimodalism as well. Bimodal, i.e. using a visual-spatial medium, expands your visual-perceptual skills: spatial awareness, mental rotation skill, visual sensitivity, and more!
Sign language helps to develop small motor skills because of the dexterity required for communicating with hand gestures. Relying on a different sense to communicate exercises your peripheral vision and trains you to become more aware of your environment.
4. It makes children smarter and better behaved
Sign language is a great way to bond and communicate with pre-verbal children, and it benefits children of all ages.
Recent research confirms that signing boosts babies’ vocabulary and mental development, and helps to reduce childhood tantrums while deepening the parent-child relationship. Children that learn to sign gain all the benefits of being bilingual and a few extras including being better spellers and readers.
Research shows that children who learn basic sign language skills (such as American Sign Language – ASL) have improved spelling skills. Signing helps to give kids another tool for remembering spelling words and leaves a larger imprint on the brain. Our muscles have their own mini-memories, so when we add signing a word to orally spelling the word, it makes it easier to remember.
5. Because it’s beautiful and fascinating!
Sign language is, in fact, not one universal language but many different languages — as many as 300 worldwide. The exact number of sign languages is not known as different countries have different forms of sign language that are still developing and changing over time.
Interestingly enough, there are even different dialects and accents within a specific country. In the USA, for example, we all know that people in Philadelphia speak with a distinctive Philly accent but did you know Philadelphians converse in their own sign language dialect?Philadelphia is known for having one of the most distinctive regional sign language accents and it resembles French Sign Language roots more closely than American Sign Language (ASL).
Apps to learn sign language
If you spend a lot of time on your smartphone or tablet, you may benefit from a learning sign language app. Some of the best ones can be found for free on the Apple Store are:
- The ASL app: This app was designed by English and American deaf people to provide a quick way to learn sign language using videos
- Hands On ASL: With fingerspelling exercises, this interactive learn sign language app serves as a useful sign language learning tool
- ASL Coach: ASL Coach is the best app to learn sign language for beginners
Classes to learn sign language
These days almost everything can be learned online… So yes, you can learn sign language from the comfort of your own home at your own time!
Overcoming prejudices against learning sign language online
It is easy to find excuses so that you can stay in your comfort zone and, indeed, there are many prejudices about learning sign language online that could prevent one from doing so. For example, you may be thinking:
- It takes too long to learn and master sign language and you’re too busy. But with online classes offered across all time zones, it is now easier than ever to schedule a lesson at a time that works for you!
- It is difficult to learn. As we get older, everything becomes more difficult to learn… so why lose valuable time? Jump straight in, and you’ll see it’s actually the first step that is the hardest one. With the right lessons, you can learn sign language in 31 days!
- You don’t need it. Even if you communicate well enough without sign language, think of how learning it would improve your communication with deaf members of your family and community. This is surely one of the best reasons to learn sign language!
To start your online learning journey, simply join Eurekly! On Eurekly, you can learn sign language easy with professional tutors such as:
- Eve, a senior at George Washington University, who has taken ASL 1-6 at Gallaudet University and can expertly help you to learn words in sign language.
- Harold, who is a deaf tutor passionate about teaching sign language and connecting with people from all over the world over his passion for nature.
- Tiju, who is deaf and specializes in teaching ASL and ISL (Indian Sign Language) as well as Web Development, for hearing and non-hearing students alike.
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FAQ about learning sign language phrases
Sign language– and all its variations worldwide are filled with a fascinating and rich history. It is a beautiful language that is unique, graceful and filled with expression. Whatever version or specific sign language you want to learn, Eurekly is here to match you with your perfect tutor.
Start learning today and book a trial lesson with Eurekly’s fantastic sign language tutors! And read our answers to your most common questions about mastering sign language:
- How long does it take to learn sign language fluently?
It takes around three years of regular practice to become fluent in sign language.
- Is sign language hard to learn?
While individual signs are easy to learn, it is more difficult to master the language’s grammar and syntax.
- How do deaf people learn sign language?
Deaf people naturally pick it up from the people around them, just as hearing people learn spoken speech.
- Which sign language should I learn?
ASLis one of the most popular sign languages to learn.
- Can dogs learn sign language?
Dogshave the ability to learn sign language with training.
- When can babies learn sign language?
Babiescan begin learning sign languages from the age of 6-8 months.
- 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.
Sign languages are one of the most important, natural and accessible means of communication for the vast majority of Deaf and hard of hearing people.
Signing naturally increases face-to-face time leading to more eye contact and opportunities for facial expression. Research shows that signing can accelerate speech development thanks to its role as a bridge to spoken language. Children who sign have been proven to have a wider vocabulary.
Sign language is the bridge that connects us to the world of those who have an impaired hearing; or verbal ability. An array of gestures made using hands, fingers, arms, head and also facial expressions; which also helps the deaf and dump to communicate with the people around them and vice versa.
Teachers are using sign language to:
Assist students in literacy development of phonics, reading, and spelling. Assist students in speech development. Assist students in language development. Promote positive peer to peer communication and interactions.
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.
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.
Sign language helps increase intelligibility for children when sign is combined with speech. It increases early language development, brain growth, and motor skill acquisition. Also, it incorporates the natural tendency to gesture and gives gesturing a purpose, which is an effective way to communicate.
Sign language is manual communication commonly used by people who are deaf. Sign language is not universal; people who are deaf from different countries speak different sign languages. The gestures or symbols in sign language are organized in a linguistic way. Each individual gesture is called a sign.
American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, natural language that has the same linguistic properties as spoken languages, with grammar that differs from English. ASL is expressed by movements of the hands and face.
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.
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.
American Sign Language (ASL) is the most widely-used sign language around the world. Signers are spread across the USA and Canada, as well as parts of Mexico, Africa, and Asia.
To sign better, form your dominant hand in an open, curved fashion, with your four fingers held together and your thumb sticking up.
Helps you communicate with everyone
Learning the skill of sign language shows the deaf community that they are not being forgotten and that they have the same access to communication with the rest of the world as anyone else. After all, everyone has the right to be heard and express themselves.
The history of sign language has an interesting past, being the first form of communication in early man. Sign language then went on to help end the discrimination of deaf people, and helped the deaf to become educated like their hearing peers. This start began in France and then spread to the United States.
Sign language is movements of your hands and arms used to communicate. There are several official systems of sign language, used for example by deaf people. Movements are also sometimes invented by people when they want to communicate with someone who does not speak the same language.
In American Sign Language (ASL), we use the 5 Parameters of ASL to describe how a sign behaves within the signer's space. The parameters are handshape, palm orientation, movement, location, and expression/non-manual signals.
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).
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?
It Is Easy To Learn
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.
“Along some dimensions, sign languages are more expressive than spoken language because they combine the same kind of logical resources with far richer iconic means,” he concludes. “They are, in a sense, 'super languages' – and they have a unique contribution to make to our understanding of human meaning.”
a conventional or arbitrary mark, figure, or symbol used as an abbreviation for the word or words it represents. a motion or gesture used to express or convey an idea, command, decision, etc.: Her nod was a sign that it was time to leave.
1. Sign language is defined as a way to communicate using hand gestures and symbols for words or letters of the alphabet, often used by those who are hard-of-hearing. An example of sign language is the means of communicating used by Helen Keller. noun.
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.
The processing of sign language showed stronger activation in both occipital lobes, both posterior temporal lobes, and in the thalamus bilaterally. It also showed strong activation particularly in structures in the right hemisphere: the superior temporal sulcus, the fusiform gyrus, and the inferior frontal gyrus.
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.
Signs give extra visual information about the words used in the message making it easier to understand. The extra visual cues given in signs supports the learning of new words and helps to model how and when to use them.
Thought is an iconic sign. Form your dominant hand into a fist, leaving your index finger up. Touch your index finger to your temple while forming a quizzical look on your face and tilting your head to the side, as if you are deep in thought.
American Sign Language, also known as ASL, is a form of communication that contains a complete vocabulary and grammar but is expressed through physical movements of the hands and arms rather than speech. ASL offers an option for deaf, hearing-impaired, and hearing individuals to communicate with each other.
Sign language is manual communication commonly used by people who are deaf. Sign language is not universal; people who are deaf from different countries speak different sign languages. The gestures or symbols in sign language are organized in a linguistic way.
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.