Top benefits for learning sign language
Learning sign language brings a number of benefits. Here are some top reasons for learning it!
American Sign Language (ASL) is the 4th most studied modern/foreign language at colleges and universities in the U.S., according to the Modern Language Association's statistics. In addition, it has a higher percent of enrollments above the top three.
Among hundreds of signed languages around the world, up to two millions people speak ASL in North America alone -- the 3rd or 4th most used language in the U.S. after Spanish and English.
Bilingualism boosts brain
Bilingualism of any languages (whether signed or spoken) is a great booster for brains. It enriches and enhances your cognitive processes: higher abstract and creative thinking, better problem-solving, greater cognitive flexibility, better listening skills, greater academic achievement, and more! It also promotes cultural awareness, literacy, and other intellectual benefits.
Not just bilingualism, but also why not bimodalism too? Bimodal, that is using visual-spatial medium, expands your visual-perceptual skills: spatial awareness, mental rotation skill, visual sensitivity, and more!
Communicating with deaf babies
Speech is not a language. It's a medium. It's extremely crucial that deaf babies are exposed to a natural language (e.g. ASL, Auslan, or another signed language) within the first two years of life ("two year window"). Ear is to hearing baby as eye is to deaf baby that both equally can access to their own languages from birth, both acquire their own languages equally on the same milestones, and develop literacy skills via different means (by eye or by ear). Eventually, deaf toddlers can learn a second language -- e.g. English -- at ease.
Cuz it's a beautiful language
People simply find it fascinating, beautiful, unique, graceful and/or expressive. The more signers learn ASL, the harder, the more complex, and the more challenging it gets they realize. But, in the end, it's all worth it and it's a fulfilling experience.
Fingerspelling is exactly not a language per se. It is a set of the alphabetical letters corresponding to spoken words. But, I will mention it nevertheless. After all, it's visual.
Fingerspelling helps students learn how to spell a word letter by letter. Some teachers (and students) use fingerspelling in spelling lessons in class. Receptive skill is also a bonus.
Appreciating literary arts
Do you think Deaf people miss out on music? Not really. What hearing people miss out is literary arts in sign language for its linguistically creative language play, poetry, and storytelling.
Visual-spatial language with its rich capabilities of cinematic devices, rhymes, rhythms, calligraphic movements, and many others adds a dynamic spice to language arts.
Communicating with animals
Human interest in communicating with animals (and possibly vice versa) has been around for a long time, via speaking, signing, and/or painting.
Using sign language with chimpanzee Chimpsky and gorilla Koko in scientific studies is one example. Another thing is talking with a pet using one of signed languages -- no different from using spoken languages.
Using sign language in professions
Basic knowledge of a signed language can be an useful communication for firefigthers, police officers and other professional civic servants, as well as scuba divers, stock traders, and more.
Naturally, cultural awareness and language competency is a must when working with Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in any settings.
Trivial yet useful benefits
You can talk conveniently in sign language with your mouth full or talk through windows of a building from a distance.You can also talk lively in loud discos or whisper in a church or a library. You can be sure that nobody can overhear you through a door (a window that's a different story) or even you can have a private talk in public (at your own risk).