Updated: Apr 13, 2020
In high school, many students may choose to take a foreign language, and those options may vary by school. At Winnacunnet specifically, these options are limited to Spanish, French and Latin and those may not ever have a verbal application in a student's everyday life. A more applicable option would be to include an American Sign Language course as part of a school’s curriculum. Giving students the option to take American Sign Language as part of a schools language program would be very beneficial to students.
Many students enrolled in either a French or Spanish class may not ever experience this language in their own country. Spanish and French may be helpful when traveling, but not at home. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately three out of every 1000 children in the United States will be born with some level of hearing loss. These children will grow up in a country where most people do not speak the same language as them, and be limited on the amount of communication they will be able to have with the general public.
There are many benefits to learning a foreign language, including improving your memory, preventing dementia and alzheimers, and increasing intelligence in other subjects. terms of how it helps your learning habits and the way one’s brain functions, this can also be applied to ASL. Starting off with any foreign language train one's brain to be more fit to understand and learn foreign languages in general, and ASL would be a great place to start for American students.
When it comes to real-life applications, learning American Sign Language would be much more beneficial for students in the United States. Sign language in its most basic form is a variation of the English language, replacing words with hand motions. Being educated on the basics of sign language would allow students to speak with the people of their own county, and promote the inclusion of the deaf community.
Learning sign language online is significantly harder than learning any other foreign language. Since it is based solely based on visual signs, it is difficult to learn through an online service, such as Duolingo for example. When it comes to a verbal language, French for example, Duolingo can be a great resource for learning how to properly pronounce words and their definitions, but sign language needs to be taught very differently. It needs to be taught visually, and a school setting is a perfect place for that. A student will be able to observe the language, copy it, and instantly get corrections from an expert.
Since American Sign Language is English-based, students would not have to worry about the writing, or pronunciation aspect of the language, only replicating the signs. This would give students the opportunity to dive deeper into the language, gaining a more comprehensive understanding and have a larger vocabulary. Overall, students would have the opportunity to learn about the deaf community in their own country, and be able to communicate and cross the language barrier of the deaf community.