Sign Language

What is American Sign Language and how you can learn it.

When we think to interact with someone the first thing that comes into our mind is verbal communication. If the person is from a foreign country we try to use English international language or try to his or our mother tongue. When we learn a new language we focus on pronunciation which includes the use of muscles of our mouth, lips, tongue, the flow of, etc. But have you ever thought the use of your hands for communication? Yes, you are right I am talking about sign language which is used by 70 million deaf peoples around the world. In this article, you will know what American Sign Language is and how you can learn it.

What is American Sign Language?

American Sign Language is also called ASL and it’s the language of deaf peoples who lives in America and Canada. Almost 500000 deaf peoples use this as the main language for communication. Many people with hearing problems use this language and even many people who have no problems in hearing use this to communicate with deaf people. Though sign language is not a new thing many people still have many misconceptions which I would like to share with you.

  • Many people think that sign language is universal which is totally wrong. Just like different languages, different countries have different sign language and they differ greatly. For example, British Sign Language (BSL) is different from ASL.  This is because these languages are developed naturally within a group of peoples.
  • Many features of ASL are present in other sign languages.
  • Another common misconception is people think hearing people invented this language. But actually it’s created by deaf peoples. They have their own grammar and syntax.
  • If you see spoken Japanese and Navajo, you will find similarity with ASL. Surprisingly ASL is free from the influence of English and Canadian language.
  • ASL is also similar to French Sign Language as in 19th century from French one of the first teachers of the deaf in America came to teach sign language.
  • When we communicate with spoken language our left hemisphere of brain are activated same thing happens with deaf peoples when they communicate with sign language.
  • Multiple meanings of one sign are possible in sign language.
  • Babies use sign language to communicate with others before they are able to speak even you can communicate with apes if you teach them to sign language.

How you can learn American Sign Language quickly:

Learning ASL is really fun if you have an interest. It is an additional quality that you can add in your CV especially now many public service-related jobs require this quality. Below are some ways that you can try to learn ASL.

  1. Learning from deaf school: There are many organizations that give ASL education. You can enroll in your seat there. One of the advantages of learning ASL from deaf school is that you will come in contact with the deaf community where you can learn and practice together.
  2. Learning from personal tutor: If you don’t have the time to manage to go to school you can get help from a personal deaf teacher. He will teach you when you want. But this will be expensive and you can only practice with your teacher.
  3. Learning from DawnSignPress: With DawnSignPress you can learn ASL from professional teachers who are making videos, books, classic fairy tales and many more for more than 40 years. They have an ASL dictionary and give free access to their online videos.
  4. Learning from YouTube: There are many ASL tutorials on YouTube. But you should be cautious before watching them because anyone can create and upload videos. So before watching the videos, you need to make sure the Instructor is expert enough to teach ASL.
  5. Keep practicing: You need to keep practicing all the time. Its better you take a close look at your hand shapes, body movements and lip patterns in front of a mirror. By joining with a deaf community you will gain real experience which will help you more in learning ASL.

I hope you enjoyed the article and let us know which way you are going to learn ASL.

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Written by
Kshitij Srivastava
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