Why is Everyone Learning Sign Language?
Over the past few months, we at OfCourse have observed something. Something intriguing.
We found that a surprising number of our students are immensely passionate about learning sign language.
It triggered a curosity as to what could be the reason for such a huge fascination with this action-based language?
From our research, we discovered a litany of compelling reasons behind the interest in sign language.
So, for anyone even remotely curious about signing, read on to discover why you too should start learning now!
Help Achieve Equality of Opportunity
The largest group of people who use sign language is within the deaf community. The different requirements of deaf people mean that without widespread abilities to communicate effectively with them, society will fail to truly provide equal opportunities for all.
Although we have observed great improvements in recent years in the workplace and societal accommodation for these needs, there is still a long way to go. Therefore, the more people learn to use sign language, the more able we are able to create an inclusive environment. From here, we can help enable everyone to have the same opportunities.
So wherever you might use your newly learned sign language – be it at work, in social environments, or in school – you’ll be helping take us one step closer to the worldwide goal of equality!
Connect to People and Help Them Feel Included
If you’ve ever stood in the middle of a group of people who all speak a different language to you, you’ll know how isolating it can feel to be unable to communicate with others.
By learning sign language, you’ll be able to reach out to all the people who experience this isolation regularly, and help them feel included, recognised and appreciated.
Doesn’t the thought of making someone feel like they belong just give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside? By learning sign language, you can break down these barriers, prohibiting you from communicating with them.
Get to Know Amazing People
Not only does learning sign language enable you help others, but you will also get a lot out of it yourself! By not knowing how to sign, you’re missing out on connecting with a whole community of wonderfully unique individuals.
Deaf people can not only offer you incredible new perspectives on life and the world, but they also have the potential to be some of the funniest, friendliest, most intelligent and creative people you’ll ever meet.
To prove it, did you know that Thomas Edison (inventor of the lightbulb and motion picture camera), Beethoven (classical music legend), Francisco Goya (painter), Heather Whitestone (Miss America 1995) and Shoshannah Stern (actress) all experience (or experienced) deafness?
Think of who you could be missing out on getting to know!
Be Prepared For Losing Your Hearing
Perhaps a more personal reason for wanting to learn to sign is that you yourself are losing your sense of hearing.
If so, it is definitely better to learn sign language as soon as possible, so that your transition into this new sensory experience is as smooth as can be!
With your new language abilities, you’ll be able to jump into an exciting community of people who have similar experiences to you. You’ll also still be able to express yourself as you always did with those you already know and love (provided they learn too!).
A Whole New World (of Job Opportunities)
Whenever you learn any new skill, you open yourself up to more job opportunities. When you learn sign language however, you massively expand the sort of work you could do!
If you’re looking for a whole new career, why not consider becoming a translator or interpreter? You’ll need excellent signing skills to make it onto the little box in the corner of your TV, but it is well worth the time and effort. There is currently an extremely high demand for such positions, so this be the start of a very exciting career.
If you’re not quite ready for a big career change, learning sign language still opens up many more doors to you. You’ll find you have a competitive edge when applying for new jobs, as many companies respect and have a great need for signers.
It also demonstrates your compassionate nature and your competency at learning new skills – bonus CV points right there!
Do It For The Kids
Sign language is not just for adults! Baby sign language is an incredibly important and beneficial extension of the language, specially created to meet the needs of both deaf and hearing infants.
This is because signing, like speech, is a medium through which language can be expressed. Unlike speaking however, infants are able to move their hands and fingers much earlier in their development. This means that before babies are able to communicate verbally, parents and carers can utilise simple motor actions to understand what their child needs.
So if you have a little one, try baby sign language for an invaluable chance to communicate with and get to know them before they can even speak!
Bilingual and Bimodal Benefits
Not only are there many social benefits of learning sign language, but there are also a whole range of ways in which signing is good for your brain.
Researchers have shown that speaking more than one language can dramatically improve your important cognitive processes, from problem-solving to multitasking (as you become used to juggling between different language systems!). Memorising the new vocabulary and structure also boosts your memory, and even keeps Alzheimer’s at bay for longer than in monolinguals!
Further benefits come from the fact that signing is a visual-spatial language. Being proficient in these visual-spatial skills (known as “bimodalism”) has been shown to improve your spatial awareness, your ability to mentally rotate objects in your mind’s eye, and more!
Learning sign language is just full of surprising benefits!
There are even more reasons that we didn’t even mention here, because everyone has their own personal motivation for learning to sign and even more unique ways they’ve benefited from it! To share your reasons and personal experience with learning sign language, get in touch at [email protected] – we’d love to hear them!