Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

ASL is a language, NOT a tool


So you’ve said “Many deaf children can communicate well with just speaking and listening. The number of deaf children who need ASL has gone down.” Need ASL? You’re talking about “needing” ASL? Hmm, it seems that your perspective is that ASL is a tool that supports the learning of English. No, that’s not true. ASL is not a tool. ASL is a language. All over the world, there are many different languages and each one should be valued. The rich diversity of those languages… Each language has its own culture and community. We need all of that diversity, all of the richness of those languages. How we understand languages and how we understand human acquisition or learning languages That human communication exchange and interaction is just amazing. Now that many languages around the world are dwindling and may soon vanish. Those languages are endangered. Many languages are endangered. Linguists are scrambling to document these languages in order to preserve them. As Lewis et al (2016) noted, some signed languages are endangered as well and may vanish as well. The situation is serious. We need to cherish all languages as well as their cultures and their heritages. And their diversity. So when you say ASL is just a tool for learning English, it’s as if you’re saying that when children from other countries who speak different spoken languages in their homes can abandon those languages after they’ve learned English. No, we can’t do that. We need to cherish these languages. Many languages around the world that are rich in diversity, culture, and knowledge need to be cherished. ASL is not a tool to support English. ASL is a language, one to be cherished.

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