Learning sign language is a great way to communicate with other people. But, while it would be ideal if it were a simple process, learning sign language is just as complex as learning spoken language.
There are also many different types of sign language. American Sign Language(ASL) is the language we will discuss in this guide, but there are over 300 other sign languages worldwide.
It's important for individuals and businesses to learn more about sign language and how to make things more accessible for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
How Long Does It Take Exactly?
Overall, it takes around three months to three years to have a solid working knowledge of sign language skill. But, it can take many more years after that to have a complete, advanced understanding of ASL. Some people pick up these skills faster than others for various reasons. The amount of time you dedicate to practicing sign language also makes a difference. If you have a goal and the resources to study often, you will advance more quickly than if you are just learning casually.
This guide will look a bit deeper into the process of learning sign language and also teach you some basic sign language dictionary skills.
How Hard Is It To Learn American Sign Language?
The best way to think about sign language is to compare it to learning any other language. It's not necessarily any harder or easier. Some people may have difficulty grasping the various hand movements, while others may pick up this language skill more quickly.
How Can You Learn Sign Language?
As with learning other languages, the best way for most people to learn ASL is through sign language classes with an experienced instructor. These days, it's possible to take a sign language class in person or online.
Beyond college-level or even community-based programs, there are a few other ways to learn and practice sign language. Some people use YouTube videos or various apps. But, while these can be helpful to start learning sign language, they aren't the best for getting in-depth knowledge.
Also, it helps to learn sign language if you have someone to practice with. Being able to practice sign language with someone fluent in the language will make it easier to know what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong.
How Do You Become A Sign Language Interpreter?
While it's possible to learn American Sign Language on your own or without any specific training classes, people who want to become sign language interpreters will have to take courses. Some places require interpreters to have a college education or to have a certification in ASL.
Some Tips To Help You Learn Sign Language
Whether you're taking a professional course or trying to learn sign language on your own, you'll want to practice regularly to learn the language well enough to communicate with other people. Some ideas to help you get better at sign language include:
- Participating in social media groups with other people learning sign language.
- Scheduling time each week to practice with someone who knows the language already.
- Teaching what you learn to someone else.
- Getting involved with the Deaf community in your area.
- Setting aside time each day to practice.
- Learning signs to your favorite songs.
As with most new skills, you must dedicate time and effort to the process. So, the more consistent and motivated you are, the better you will get.
Info On How To Sign Common Words And Phrases
Because sign language is such a visual language that involves moving the hands and arms, the best way to learn is by watching someone perform the sign. But, here is a primer for some common signs:
- How to say sorry in sign language: Create a fist with a hand and move it in a circle over your heart.
- How to say you're welcome in sign language: You're welcome and thank you are both signed by placing your dominant hand flat in front of you and moving it from your chin in a downward arch away from the face.
- How to say I love you in sign language: Make an L using your thumb and index finger. Then, extend your little finger. Finally, move your hand in a motion toward the person you are addressing.
Sign language is just as complex and nuanced as American English or any other language, so committing yourself to the process is the best way to learn.
Benefits Of Learning Sign Language
Learning ASL makes a lot of sense for people in the Deaf community or those with loved ones who are in the community. Knowing the same language allows people to communicate more fully with one another. But, even individuals who aren't as directly connected to the deaf community can benefit from learning American Sign Language. Some of these benefits include:
- Being able to communicate with more people.
- Getting to understand and appreciate the Deaf community.
- Mental benefits of learning a new language.
- Professional benefits of putting this skill on a resume.
There are many reasons to learn American Sign Language, and it's also important to recognize the efforts and respect of everyone in the Deaf community and listen to them as the experts.
Resources For Businesses
If you're a business that wants to help your employees learn American Sign Language or that is trying to make your company more ADA accessible, ADA Central is here to assist you.
We have useful resources on our blog and also provide custom ADA signs to help you remain compliant and create a welcoming space for all in your community. Learn more today.