Tips on how to learn sign language
It is World Hearing Day on the 3rd of March and we thought this year we’d create awareness around the day by giving you a few tips should you wish to learn the art of sign language or ASL (American Sign Language). Not only will you be able to better understand and communicate with deaf or hard-hearing people, your communication and listening skills will also improve as you are forced to reformulate ideas and check understanding.
- Be sure to take lessons from a professional. There are many so-called tutors and YouTube videos out there claiming to be experts in the art of signing however not all teaching sources necessarily teaches you the right hand gestures and expressions. As with any skill, the earlier you learn and the more you practice, the better.
- It’s no just about your hand gestures. Whe communicating in sign language, you are expected to make use of your arms, torso and facial expressions to better express yourself as well.
- Always remember, when you are communicating in ASL, you always perform your actions outwards with the palms of your hands facing the person you are communicating with.
- Learn counting and the days of the week at an early stage. Just like you would learn the basics in any language, knowing these basic signs will aid you in a lot of conversations involving times and dates and meeting plans.
- Practice makes perfect. Take a class or better yet try and work with somehow who has firsthand experience (no pun intended). You’ll notice that a lot of news programmes on television usually have a lady or gentlemen in the bottom corner translating the news in sign language, keep an eye on this person and see what you can learn.
- American sign language is not a direct translation of English. Sign language has its own regocnised grammar rules, syntax and more. It takes every bit as long to learn the art of sign language as it would take to learn a new language such as Spanish, for example.
- ASL is not universal. Be careful when first learning sign language as each country has its own version with regional variations exactly as you’d find in the English language.
- Watch yourself practice. Record a video of yourself while using sign language and watch the video to see whether you are performing each action correctly and identify what can be improved upon. Practicing in the mirror is also an easy way to see whether you are performing each sign correctly.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Just like any new skill, asking questions forms a natural part of the learning process. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for assistance should you get stuck on anything.
Don’t put pressure on yourself. Learning a new skill takes time and learning the gentle art of sign language is highly rewarding. Go on, learn one new word in ASL today in preparation to celebrate World Hearing Day on the 3rd of March.