Learn Sign Language
Most employers agree that learning a second language can prove beneficial while establishing a career. One of the most overlooked linguistics-based skills include learning American Sign Language (ASL). American Sign Language is a complex form of communication using the hands, arms, head, facial expression, and body language to convey messages without sound. ASL differs from spoken languages, and features its own set of grammar, vocabulary, and spelling rules, making it a complete and natural language in its own right. Consider learning ASL from the same perspective as a foreign language, such as Greek, Russian, or Spanish. Not only can it increase one's probability of landing a job, but it will induce satisfaction in knowing a method to communicate with deaf people. ASL differs from other sign language variations, such as Malaysian Sign Language (BIM). It can be used at social outings, business meetings, sporting events, school affairs, and in any environment with deaf attendees.
Consider following these basic steps on how to learn sign language:
- The first step on how to learn sign language consists of using a number of associated tools, including a sign language dictionary and sign language alphabet chart. Use the sign language alphabet to learn the basics. Once mastering the sign language alphabet fundamentals, try spelling words out. Practice with friends and family, and then move onto deaf volunteers.
- After learning the sign language alphabet, open a credible sign language dictionary, such as “A Basic Course in American Sign Language (ASL)” by Humphries, Padden, and O'Rourke. Applying the basic steps on how to learn sign language using an applicable sign language dictionary will instill a sense of understanding not acquired before starting basic lessons.
- Students should immerse themselves with deaf culture. There's no better applicable method to learning sign language, other than to understand vibrant history of the deaf culture's history, traditions, stories, and celebrities.
- Prospective students should consider enrolling into an accredited ASL class to develop proficiency in sign language. Many city colleges offer classes on how to learn sign language. Online classes are available for those who require flexibility; however, most ASL instructors suggest that one learns in a classroom setting.
- After gaining confidence in one's sign language abilities, students can develop personal and impersonal relationships with deaf people. American Sign Language (ASL) embodies a three-dimensional presentation consisting of pictures, hand movements, and facial expressions. The actual movements can develop similar fluency that mirrors foreign language experts. ASL instructors should always aim at developing friendships with deaf people. Not only will this strengthen one's sign language abilities, but it will bring personal fulfillment and enrichment to the lives of the less fortunate.
Follow these links to learn more about developing proficiency in American Sign Language (ASL):
- American SL Basics (PDF)
- Sutton's American SL-English Picture Dictionary (PDF)
- The Deaf Resources Library: About American SL
- Hands and Voices: American SL
- Learning Outcomes for American SL Skills Levels 1 - 4 (PDF)
- The American SL Browser
- Lifeprint.com: "SL University"
- Sign Language for Mathematics – Elementary