Do you know someone who speaks using American Sign Language (ASL)? I remember watching the ASL interpreter at our local church on Sunday mornings as she signed the songs and sermons to the deaf congregation as I was growing up. I always thought ASL was a beautiful language and one I wanted to learn one day.
As I grew up, I have tried to take every opportunity I could to learn the language and to teach it to my children. Most of the time it has been in the form of books, songs, or flashcards. However, recently, I was excited to be introduced to Once Upon a Sign DVDs by DawnSignPress because they helped to provide the immersion opportunity they needed to better understand the ASL language.
So, besides the fact that ASL is a beautiful language, why do I find ASL so important to teach to my children? Here are just a few of the reasons.
Why Learn American Sign Language
- Approximately 17% of the United States population is either deaf or very hard of hearing. Your child has over a 1 in 10 chance of either meeting someone who is deaf or having a family member who is deaf.
- Learning ASL introduces children to another culture.
- Learning ASL increases vocabulary because each new word is attached to a physical motion. In fact, in some studies, students who have learned ASL have been known for increased vocabulary test scores down the road.
- ASL can increase communication. Does your child have a speech delay? Or, a learning disability? Or, tantrums? Sometimes learning ASL can help reduce the stress of communication in a child because they don’t have to use their voice to speak.
- Learning ASL can increase a child’s IQ.
- ASL is the fourth most popular language studied at colleges and universities.
- ASL Finger Spelling increases literacy skills and helps those struggling with spelling and reading.
While learning any language can help in many areas of academic development, ASL has one thing going for it that no other language does–physical movement. In ASL one uses his/her body instead of his/her voice when speaking, making it the ideal first or second language for children who are still learning how to use their tongues.
7 Fun Ways to Immerse Your Child in ASL
- When you go to church, a conference, or a concert, sit in or near the deaf section and watch the interpreter. You can learn several signs just by trying to imitate the signs while you sing or listen.
- Find a friend who speaks ASL and visit them regularly. Most appreciate that you are trying to learn the language and will gladly help you become better at it. Don’t have any friends who speak ASL? Look for a Deaf Chat in your area on Deaf Chat Coffee to make some new friends.
- Watch vlogs in ASL. For kids, I suggest starting with Ken and Sarah Brown’s vlog as many of the videos are created by their deaf son, Travis.
- Let your high schooler attend an ASL immersion camp. Several area universities provide this opportunity to interact with the deaf community during a week-long immersion experience.[bctt tweet=”One of the easiest ways to immerse yourself in ASL is to watch stories told in ASL @dawnsignpress.”]
- Volunteer in a local deaf organization, school, or club. Just google for a deaf group to serve in your area.
- Use flashcards to label items around the house and try to refer to those items in ASL whenever possible.
- Watch movies or tv shows told in ASL. This is probably one of the easiest ways as you don’t have to GO anywhere. We’ve recently been watching the Once Upon a Sign DVDs as they are storybook tales with a twist told completely in sign language. The girls know what is going on in the story because they are familiar with the original tale, and as they repeatedly watch the videos, they learn a few more signs each time. This is one of the best immersion ASL DVDs I’ve seen for younger students.
DawnSign Press‘ Once Upon a Sign Videos We’ve Been Watching: