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Why does one learn a signed language?

There are many reasons why people learn a signed language -- American Sign Language (ASL), for example.

Required course

If you are a student at school, college or university, it's possibly the reason for being required to study a foreign or second language.

Family and friends

You may be interested in communicating with a deaf relative or friend. If you date a Deaf person or a coda whose parents are Deaf who speaks a different signed language or give birth to a deaf baby, you may learn their language. And, naturally they know your (written) language. It's a nice gesture to show your reciprocity.

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." -- Nelson Mandela.

"Emigration"

When one enters a Deaf community (via marriage or lifelong friendship), they learn the "local" language to communicate and integrate with the Deaf community.

"One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way." -- Frank Smith.

Work and career

Teachers, counselors, and some other professionals in the related fields may be required to know the language (e.g. ASL) to work with these ASL-speaking people.

Knowing the language in other professions such as firefighting, police, etc. may increase your chances of finding a job or a promotion.

But, a LPI (Language Proficiency Index) conducted by a qualified national organization may be required for some jobs. If you are an organization or company, be sure to ask for a formal LPI result. Certified professional interpreters are required in formal settings, such as medical, legal, and educational.

Socializing

Knowing the sign language allows you socialize with ASL-speaking people directly and enjoy subtle interactions including humor, joke, chit-chats, and more.

A basic language skill in ASL can help you get by, such as ordering food and drink, finding your way around, asking for basic information, etc. With more advanced skills, you can have everyday conversations with people.

"A different language is a different vision of life." -- Federico Fellini.

Appreciation for literature and arts

You probably are interested in learning the language to understand and appreciate a poem, a drama, or a story in ASL directly that its linguistic nuances, rhymes, meanings, language play, and such cannot be translated or interpreted. Maybe you learn the language in order to gain a better understanding of their culture and way of thinking or perspective.

"The limits of my language are the limits of my world." -- Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Linguistics studies

Maybe you are interested in learning or studying the linguistic aspects of ASL.

Love at first sight

Maybe sign language has been always fascinating since you were a kid and you have been wanting to learn it. You think it's beautiful, expressive, and graceful.

Multilingual baby

You probably learn ASL (along with French, Spanish, First Nations' languages, or another) to teach your baby another language to boost its cognitive expansion.

If you have any other reason for learning sign language or have a comment, email me.

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