person's left hand

Although Sign Language is not a language that is spoken with one’s mouth, it can still be as difficult or even more difficult to learn than a spoken language. Sign language incorporates both mental and physical aspects when being used which can make it more challenging to learn as speakers have to think of the words inside their mind as well as move their hands to shape the words. However, building one’s sign language skills from the ground up, starting with the basics like the alphabet just like one does when learning a spoken language, can make the task much easier. There are many resources online to help develop one’s skills like taking an online class or downloading an app that can be an excellent pastime during a pandemic (Parfitt). To gain the benefits of sign language, one can start learning the language through external resources that focus on educating the individual on the foundations of sign language and the importance of incorporating one’s entire body. 

    To begin learning sign language, one should start by understanding what type of sign language he or she will be learning. This is usually based on where one lives and hand signs can vary based on the ‘dialect’ being used. The two most common types are American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL). These ‘dialects’ are quite different from each other much like English and American accents are quite different. For example, BSL speakers use two hands to sign their alphabet while ASL speakers only use one (British Sign Language). Next, to become more fluent and familiar with the language, one can enroll in a sign language class, watch videos online, or even hire a tutor (Parfitt). Each of these can be safely done within the pandemic currently circulating the globe as classes and tutoring sessions can be held through video calls. Those who want to learn can also use a sign language app or have their hard-of-hearing friends and family teach them sign language (Parfitt). Learning from friends and family may also help the learner become more immersed in the language as they can practice by having each interaction with each other in sign language. Incorporating facial expressions into everyday speech is also important as these expressions play an important role in communication. As sign language cannot convey a tone that usually helps differentiate between a question, statement, exclamation, etc. facial expressions are very important in demonstrating the desired effect of a word or phrase (Facial Expressions). These facial expressions are called non-manual markers and include head tilts, head nods, head shakes, and shoulder raising among other movements of the body. Using these expressions can help enhance one’s sign language and help him or her stand out in the sign language community. Through online resources, practicing with hard-of-hearing friends and family, and understanding how to sign like a fluent sign language user can help one easily and effectively learn a language that appears challenging.  

    Learning languages appears impossible at the very beginning. Learning a whole new alphabet with different pronunciations and dialects can be confusing and challenging. Learning sign language can seem to be more difficult because its words appear in the form of motions rather than sounds. But understanding the difference between dialects of sign language and practicing the language’s foundations before learning more complicated ideas and concepts, can help make the process of learning more smooth. One needs to use his or her resources when learning a new language as outside assistance can help one gain a better understanding of how the language is communicated between native speakers. 

Works Cited 

“British Sign Language (BSL).” Start ASL, Start ASL , 12 Mar. 2020, 

www.startasl.com/british-sign-language-bsl/. 

“Facial Expressions.” Facial Expressions in American Sign Language (ASL), ASL 

University, www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/facialexpressions.htm. 

Parfitt, Ellie. “10 Easy Methods to Learn Sign Language (with Tips!).” Hearing Like 

Me, Ellie Parfitt, 27 Oct. 2020, www.hearinglikeme.com/how-to-learn-sign

-language/.

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October 3, 2021 11:25 pm

Dear Anna

I feel very enlightened about the basic fundamentals of sign language thanks to your post “Learning Sign Language” Mainly because I thought sign language was very different from country to country. I didn’t expect ASL and BSL to be similar. 
One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “Learning sign language can seem to be more difficult because its words appear in the form of motions rather than sounds.” I think this is interesting because I wasn’t very aware of this until now.

Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because of your informative posts. Not to mention your amazing explanations are very pleasant to read.

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