Many benefits come with learning a new language one of them is feeling connected with people who communicate in those languages. However, learning sign language is a bit different but comes with a good learning experience and many skills.
Sign language has been the fundamental means of communication for the deaf since the 1800s. Now the American Sign Language (ASL) is labeled as a world language and studied in most colleges and universities same as French and Spanish. Among the hundreds of signed languages used around the world, ASL is commonly used in many countries.
As more and more university students enrolled in sign language classes, hearing children are also taught the language in many countries. This shows that its popularity has widely increased. When children are taught ASL together with spoken languages they are using both sides of the brain. As sign language is the depiction of information through hearing, sight, and movement, more pathways are created in the brain as a result, one gets a stronger memory.
Top Benefits for learning Sign Language
Although sign language is often overlooked as many believe it is used by the deaf, it is as valid as learning any other language. Learning sign language is packed with many benefits. The more you learn it, your facial expressions become more focused mirroring your speech and you have more gestures as you are speaking. This is very helpful to your listeners as they will understand more what you are saying. Let us explore more benefits that learning sign language brings.
Sign Language Is Beautiful
As more and more people learn sign language, they find it as unique, beautiful fascinating, and expressive. Sign language is not a single universal language but many different visual languages. The number of sign languages is unknown as it keeps changing and developing over time. Different countries have different forms and even dialects and accents of sign language. ASL is the most commonly used. It is still described by signers as complex and challenging. For example, in the USA, Philadelphians have their own distinctive sign language dialect resembling the French sign language more than the ASL.
As with anything beneficial, learning ASL or any other sign language is a fulfilling goal and experience in the end. With its many forms and styles which are constantly changing, people will find it an interesting and beautiful language.
To communicate with Many People
We know that the most obvious reason that people study sign language is to communicate with deaf and people with difficulties hearing. It is the most essential mode of communication for deaf people. Worldwide, it is estimated that over 5% of the world population has a hearing impairment. As years go by it is thought that the number will increase. In the USA, ASL is the fourth most used language. In South America and India, sign language is widely used. Although it is mainly used by deaf people, it is also used by other people who can hear but can not speak. Also, the family and close acquaintances of such ones will be obligated to use signs to communicate with them. If you learn about the deaf culture and community, it becomes easier to make friends with them.
Sign language helps communicate with people who have different disorders that prevent them from having verbal communication. An example is an autism spectrum disorder. Children with this condition indicated higher communication skills when using sign language than using spoken language. Learning sign language promotes cultural awareness
It Improves Your Brain
Bilingualism of any sign or spoken language is a big brain booster. Studying a different language enhances the human brain. For decades it has been known that learning a new language enriches cognitive functions, improves listening skills, improves abstract and creative thinking, better attention, better problem solving, increased academic achievement, enhances memory mental rotation skills, and much more. It is not easy to forget what you have learned.
Bilingual students whether adults or children are seen to score higher than those who do not study another language. They also have shown increased IQ. Sign language is easier to learn than spoken languages and enhances our bimodal. That is our visual-perceptual skills, having visual sensitivity, spatial awareness, and much more. While learning spoken language engages the auditory cortex of the brain, watching sign language proves more activity in the parts that process visual motion. Furthermore, sign language is easier to learn for people with dyslexia, autism, and other conditions.
Helpful for Children
As sign language is used widely, the practice of teaching it as a second language to hearing children is gaining popularity. When the children are taught both English and ASL, they are using both sides of the brain. This improves their memory and they become better at spelling and reading. Research has shown that signing improves babies’ vocabulary and mental development. It also helps reduce childhood tantrums while strengthening the bond of parent and child.
According to experts, babies as young as six months can remember a sign. As they continue to grow, signing becomes better for early communication. By the time they are two years, they can sign compound words and complete sentences. Preschools have begun teaching sign language to their students and this has proved beneficial in later years.
Research has shown that children who learn ASL have improved spelling skills. When adding signing a word to orally spelling it, it becomes easier to remember. Sign language is helpful to children as it benefits their attention to the social gestures of others as well as of themselves. It does not interfere with talking when taught to children with autism or other disabilities, on the contrary, teaching sign language along with verbal language has proven to speed up their development of spoken communication abilities.
As parents continue to see the benefits of teaching sign language to their children, its popularity will continue to grow more and more.
For Communicating with Deaf Children
As research has shown babies as young as seven months can learn few sign languages. After a baby is identified as a deaf baby, the parents need to expose them to a natural language such as ASL at the early five years of life. That stage is very crucial for the baby for acquiring a language. they will of course continue to be exposed to sign language beyond that time. The eyes and other senses of deaf ones can achieve literacy and language milestones differently. As time goes by, the toddlers will eventually be able to learn a second language for example English with ease. Parents need not ignore their children’s communication when young as it will help the children be more expressive and avoid many frustrations. Research has shown that the earlier babies learn to express themselves the more they will as they get older and perform well in many areas.
It is more Expressive
Sign languages are about the movement of hands, arms, body, and facial expressions. Eyebrows can be lowered or raised to make a sentence a question or a statement. When speaking in sign your facial expressions have to be correct for you to convey the right message. With all those movements going on, someone who speaks in sign is probably burning some calories when they talk.
Sign language comes with psychological benefits such as improved self-confidence and self-esteem. It makes it easier for children to communicate and will save them when their words do not come out clearly when they are flustered. This will reduce their frustration levels as they can clearly express themselves.
Help You Become a Better Listener
The time you spend communicating with someone in sign language requires you to focus and concentrate fully on the person speaking to you. This is because you cannot sign without looking at the word, eye contact, facial expression, and body movement of the person talking to you. Engaging in eye contact is extremely beneficial for both sign and spoken languages. By maintaining eye contact in verbal language, it shows the listener that you are genuinely interested in them. As a result, the more you use sign language, you become a better listener.
Used in Profession
Just as learning a new language increases the chances of getting employed, learning sign language could be a professional opportunity to be a sign language interpreter. As more media outlets and press conferences continue implementing sign language, one’s knowledge of the language increases the chances of employment. Being able to translate to sign language is a genuinely marketable skill. It does not mirror spoken language as many people perceive it to be. Intellectual activity is behind sign language interpretation. One could also consider teaching sign languages to others or doing home-based classes with children who only use sign.
Basic sign language could be an effective mode of communication for many professions outside the deaf community. This includes firefighters, scuba divers, police officers, military personnel, various civic servants, stock traders, and more. Cultural awareness is a must when using signed language. In some of these professions, sign language could be the best option than verbal language, however, in most cases, it is used for communicating with deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
It gives you more vision
Not only does sign language benefit bilingualism, but also bimodal. Bimodal is the use of a visual-spatial medium, which expands our visual-perceptual skills that is spatial awareness, visual sensitivity, mental rotation skills, and much more. Many say that sign language users have better peripheral vision and reaction time. This is because one needs to be more focused and alert which is beneficial in many sports activities and in driving.
Sign language helps one develop small motor skills because of the mastery in communicating with hand gestures. Scientists have discovered that deaf people have remarkable visual abilities that hearing adults do not. This is because relying on a different sense to communicate with others exercises your peripheral vision and helps you to be more aware of the external environment. No wonder we see that most people with a certain disability excel in a certain field exceptionally.
Communicate with Animals
As humans have an interest in communicating with animals and vice versa, we need to understand that animals can be deaf too. It can be possible through using sign language, speaking, and art. Some people have taught their dogs some basic sign languages and they communicate and build a strong bond with them. Some people who are deaf or have different disabilities use sign language to communicate with their service dogs which they highly rely on. Another use of speech-language with animals is with parrots and communicating with elephants for painting. In other instances, people use signs when communicating with animals in entertainment shows and specially trained animals for circuses.
For Having Secret Conversations
Sign languages could be used when the spoken word is impossible. This could be when communicating underwater for example for divers when talking through glass, when communicating from a distance, at a loud place like a music concert, or when talking with your mouth full. Sign language can also help you talk without interrupting others with your noise for example at a movie theatre when conversing with your friend about the movie. It can also be a great way for passing confidential information and gossiping without anyone else noticing. Kids learned a few sign language when communicating with their classmates in class without the teachers finding out.
Considering that sign language is like French or English, learning it would prove to be a worthwhile goal and experience. You will sharpen your listening skills, enhance your memory, be more expressive, have more vision, and exercise your brain.
As we have seen, whether one chooses to learn sign language to exercise the brain, add another language to their plate, expand friends circle beyond the hearing, communicate with deaf family members, share secrets among your deaf friends learning signs only has advantages.