I was introduced to American Sign Language (ASL) at a pretty young age. I had a deaf friend growing up, and am hard of hearing myself, not to mention my mom used to be a special-education teacher, so she learned it as well.
Some of my earliest memories involve being in school every morning, going over what day it was and what we were having for lunch in ASL. I recall some of it to this day.
There are many benefits to learning ASL, especially at a young age. These benefits help the child now, as well as later in life.
According to hearmeoutcc.com, learning ASL can improve your peripheral vision and response time, boosts your communication skills, improves body language and in learning it, you’re able to help when required.
ASL also benefits children. It’s been found that the younger the children learn ASL, the better.
Marilyn Daniels with Pennsylvania University states in her studies that learning ASL leads to higher reading level in children, as well as a 15%-20% improvement in vocabulary.
According to globalpartnership.org, other benefits include accelerated speech and emotional development, plus-12 IQ point advantage, effective communication, lower frustration levels, reinforces learning of educational concepts such as the alphabet and animals, improved word recollection in children because there is muscle memory involved, and the more senses involved in learning, the greater memory retention the child will have, and better grades in school.
Finally, according to educationalplaycare.com, children who know ASL score 17% higher on standardized tests administered in the younger school years.
Some of you may be reading this wondering why I care about what’s being taught in schools. I don’t have kids and my little brother is going to graduate in two years, so maybe it is a bit silly for me to have an opinion on this. However, I’m holding my stance that this is important.
Not only does learning ASL count as learning a second language, but it also has more benefits to learning it than other languages do. Bilingualism of any language is a great boost for brains.
One in 20 people are deaf or hard of hearing, meaning you’re bound to meet several people with impaired hearing over your lifetime. Knowing ASL could make it a lot easier for you to communicate with them, especially in emergencies.
Overall, ASL is obviously something worth considering putting on the curriculum in our schools, both to benefit our students and our schools.