Is Sign Language A Foreign Language

Children Acquire Sign Language In The Same Way They Acquire Spoken Language

A Few Things to Know About American Sign Language | NPR

The stages of sign language acquisition are the same as those for spoken language. Babies start by “babbling” with their hands. When they first start producing words, they substitute easier hand shapes for more difficult ones, making for cute “baby pronunciations.” They start making sentences by stringing signs together and only later get control of all the grammatical rules. Most importantly, as seen in the above video, they learn through natural interaction with the people around them.

What Research Does The Nidcd Support On Asl And Other Sign Languages

The NIDCD supports research on ASL, including its acquisition and characterization. Funded research includes studies to understand sign languages grammar, acquisition, and development, and use of sign language when spoken language access is compromised by trauma or degenerative disease, or when speech is difficult to acquire due to early hearing loss or injury to the nervous system.

Teenage boy having a conversation using sign language.

Study of sign language can also help scientists understand the neurobiology of language development. In one study, researchers reported that the building of complex phrases, whether signed or spoken, engaged the same brain areas. Better understanding of the neurobiology of language could provide a translational foundation for treating injury to the language system, for employing signs or gestures in therapy for children or adults, and for diagnosing language impairment in individuals who are deaf.

The NIDCD is also funding research on sign languages created among small communities of people with little to no outside influence. Emerging sign languages can be used to model the essential elements and organization of natural language and to learn about the complex interplay between natural human language abilities, language environment, and language learning outcomes. Visit the NIH Clinical Research Trials and You website to read about these and other clinical trials that are recruiting volunteers.

Not A Universal Language

There is no single sign language used around the world. Like spoken language, sign languages developed naturally through different groups of people interacting with each other, so there are many varieties. There are somewhere between 138 and 300 different types of sign language used around the globe today.

Interestingly, most countries that share the same spoken language do not necessarily have the same sign language as each other. English for example, has three varieties: American Sign Language , British Sign Language and Australian Sign Language .

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If A Student Is A Native Speaker Of A Language Other Than English Do They Need To Take A Third Language To Meet The Foreign Language Requirement

It depends on how the colleges the student is interested in looks at it. Some of the time, colleges only care about the years of foreign language on the transcript. In that case, a native Spanish speaker could actually just take Spanish to fulfill their high school foreign language requirement. Some of the time, colleges only care about proficiency levels in the second language. So if a student can prove via an AP language test that they are proficient, that will be fine.

More selective colleges will expect their applicants to take a language OTHER than their heritage language in high school.

Sign Language Is A Visual Language

This one is pretty obvious, but it’s important to mention. Sign language is just like spoken language in many ways, but it’s also different. Sign can be very straightforward and formal, but it can also take full advantage of its visual nature for expressive or artistic effect . Which, when you think about it, doesn’t make sign language all that different after all: For expressive purposes, we can take full advantage of spoken language’s auditory nature. We can also take advantage of facial expressions and gestures when we speak. Everything that would be in an artistic spoken performancethe words, the ordering of clauses, the pauses, the breath intake, the intonation and melody, the stressing or deemphasizing of sounds, the facial and vocal emotion, the body posture and head and hand gesturescome through together in sign language. It looks amazing not because it shows us what sign language can do, but because it shows us what language does.

A version of this story ran in 2015 it has been updated for 2021.

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Which Countries Recognize Sign Language As An Official Language

The World Federation of the Deaf estimates that there are 72 million deaf people in the world of whom 80% live in developing countries. There are about 300 different sign languages. In addition, International Sign Language is used by the deaf outside geographic boundaries. It is a pidgin of the natural sign language that is not complex but has a limited lexicon. Currently, only 41 countries around the world have recognized sign language as an official language.

Asl Should Count As A Foreign Language

William Mooney | Staff Illustrator

Syracuse University has some curriculum catching-up to do. Our university does not accept American Sign Language to fulfill its foreign language requirement. The point of learning a language is to communicate with more people. So, what about those who are deaf or hard of hearing?

Mike Mazzaroppi, Accessibility Counselor and ASL instructor at SU first taught at Onondaga Community College. OCC offers 15 to 20 classes on ASL from level 1 all the way to level 6 every semester, and also offers classes on figure spelling and deaf culture. Theres even an ASL minor.

SU offers classes that contract to the community college.

SU only offers, at most that I have seen, its four classes in the semester. I dont think they offer any in the summer, and its usually three level one and only one level two, he said.

OCC is not an outlier. About 200 universities across the country accept ASL in fulfillment of graduation. SU is not one. Interestingly, 10 SUNY schools, including Albany, Buffalo, Oswego and more all make the list.

Normally, that wouldnt really be a big thing I guess, except for the fact that SU prides itself on being inclusive and progressive, Mazzaroppi said. If you think about it, they have a disability studies program, a disabilities culture central and yet, ASL is not the language that they promote, which kind of contradicts everything, in my opinion.

What is needed now is to go through the curriculum process.

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American Sign Language As A Foreign Language For High School/college Requirements

Foreign language as a high school requirement for graduation varies from district to district. My son Jon became very concerned with this issue, not only for high school graduation, but also as it applied to college entrance requirements. As his college search began, we started with our state schools to get an idea of foreign language entrance requirements. His particular high school has a requirement that groups a specific number of credit hours in the categories of Music/Art/Foreign language. He fulfilled this high school graduation requirement by being involved in band and small group ensembles as a percussionist. However, college entrance is on his list of expectations and the foreign language requirement still remains. Having watched his sister, who is hard-of-hearing, tackle three years of Spanish, he decided to take another route. Visiting the Counselor’s office and asking questions of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the school district, he decided to enroll at Front Range Community College in American Sign Language classes .

At the present time, ASL as a foreign language for high school graduation academic credit varies from district to district. In our local district, it would require a special “approval waiver” from either the on-site Principal or the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. As your high school student addresses the issue of foreign language requirements, you may wish to consider this strategy when planning your child’s coursework.

Herbert: Unl Needs To Follow Lb965 Recognizing Asl For Foreign Language Credits

Learning a Foreign Language can be fun

On Aug. 18, the Nebraska State Legislature passed Legislature Bill 965. LB965 recognizes American Sign Language as separate and distinct from English and gives schools the authority to offer ASL classes for foreign language credit. Likewise, postsecondary institutions can offer elective ASL courses, and credits earned in those courses can be used as foreign language classes if the institution allows.

Nearly 200 universities in the United States accept ASL courses for fulfillment of foreign language requirements, but the University of Nebraska-Lincoln isnt one of them.

The university needs to allow its students to use ASL classes to fulfill their foreign language credits.

The College of Education and Human Sciences currently offers four ASL courses through their Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology program, and accepts them as elective, not foreign language credits.

Because LB965 recognizes ASL as being a distinct and separate language and grants colleges and universities the authority to count ASL credits toward foreign language requirements, I see no reason that UNL shouldnt the footsteps of other Big Ten schools like Ohio State University and the University of Iowa that accept ASL as a foreign language.

Since when do we want Ohio State to have a leg up on us? If 197 postsecondary institutions throughout the country are able to offer ASL for foreign language credit, surely UNL can too.

Chloe Herbert is a freshman history major. Reach her at .

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Varieties Of American Sign Language

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developed in the United States and Canada, but has spread around the world. Local varieties have developed in many countries, but there is little research on which should be considered dialects of ASL and which have diverged to the point of being distinct languages .

The following are sign language varieties of ASL in countries other than the US and Canada, languages based on ASL with influence from local sign languages, and in which ASL is a component. Distinction follow political boundaries, which may not correspond to linguistic boundaries.

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Over recent decades, quite a few states passed legislation to recognize and identify ASL as a distinct foreign language.

This enabled universities, colleges, and high schools not only to accept but also to implement the language, therefore fulfilling all requirements regarding foreign language with regard to hard hearing and deaf students.

American Sign Language is a visual/gestural language that is distinct from English or any other foreign spoken language.

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ASL is also distinct from any other sign languages used in different countries, and the language is distinct from any other English language-based sign system used in America, e.g. English manually coded systems.

We dont know the exact number of people that use ASL but the language is the most widely used language in the U.S. for one-on-one communication.

ASL is used as a 1st or 2nd language by many Americans and estimates range from 200,000 to nearly one million individuals, including deaf native signers, children of deaf parents, and/or adult deaf signers that learned ASL from other deaf individuals.

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Raising The Bar For Standards In Translation And Interpretation

Whether dealing with strict guidelines and laws as we see with sign language interpreting or more ambiguous standards when dealing with foreign language interpreting assignments, there is no doubt that interpreting is a profession that carries a lot of responsibility. The value of high quality interpreting is not always considered by those who are tasked with hiring an interpreting. Its not often that the end-user is responsible for bringing the interpreter on-board.

MT& A and Language Solutions both understand the burden of proving the value of translation and interpreting every day. If the value is not known, then interpreting is merely seen as a cost burden to the client. However, the costs of a poor interpreting job almost never go unnoticed at some point in the proceedings. Poor interpreting services can lead to poor decision making that otherwise could have been avoided. At MT& A and Language Solutions, our goal is to ensure that language interpreting services removes language barrier to facilitate proceedings. If Language Interpreting services are done well, the outcome of any case should be the same as if it were done between two parties who could speak in the same language.

Make the effort to secure quality interpreters for an accurate and objective translation of your message, and for satisfied and smooth relations with those who speak or sign a different language:

Contact MT& A for any Sign Language Interpreting needs.

Basics Of Alphabets And Fingerspelling

Most people start their sign language journey by learning the A-Z or alphabet equivalent in sign form.

The use of the hands to represent individual letters of a written alphabet is called fingerspelling. Its an important tool that helps signers manually spell out names of people, places and things that dont have an established sign.

For example, most sign languages have a specific sign for the word tree, but may not have a specific sign for oak, so o-a-k would be finger spelled to convey that specific meaning.

Of course, not every language uses the Latin alphabet like English, so their sign language alphabet differs as well. Some manual alphabets are one-handed, such as in ASL and French Sign Language, and others use two-hands, like BSL or Auslan. Though there are similarities between some of the different manual alphabets, each sign language has its own style and modifications, and remains unique.

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What Is American Sign Language

American Sign Language is a complete, natural language that has the same linguistic properties as spoken languages, with grammar that differs from English. ASL is expressed by movements of the hands and face. It is the primary language of many North Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing and is used by some hearing people as well.

A Guide To The Different Types Of Sign Language Around The World

One of the most common misconceptions about sign language is that its the same wherever you go. Thats not the case. In fact, there are somewhere between 138 and 300 different types of sign language used throughout the world today. New sign languages frequently evolve amongst groups of deaf children and adults.

With that in mind, lets take a look at 9 examples of sign languages from around the world:

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Countries That Recognize Sign Language As An Official Language

Of the 41 countries recognize sign language as an official language, 26 are in Europe. The European Parliament approved the resolution requiring all member states to adopt sign language in an official capacity on June 17, 1988. The parliament issued another declaration with similar resolutions in 1998.

Of the remaining countries, six are in South America, four are in Africa , two are in Oceania , two are in Asia , while Mexico is the only North American state. Sign language was approved to become South Africa’s 12th official language.

Sign Language Alphabets From Around The World

Signs and foreign body language (Philippines example)

Lets take a trip around the world to explore sign languages, their stories and their finger alphabets. The journey to communicating globally begins here!

Sign language is a visual means of communicating through hand signals, gestures, facial expressions, and body language.

Its the main form of communication for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community, but sign language can be useful for other groups of people as well. People with disabilities including Autism, Apraxia of speech, Cerebral Palsy, and Down Syndrome may also find sign language beneficial for communicating.

And as you will see in the different languages below, it has even had other uses throughout history.

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Where Did Asl Originate

No person or committee invented ASL. The exact beginnings of ASL are not clear, but some suggest that it arose more than 200 years ago from the intermixing of local sign languages and French Sign Language . Todays ASL includes some elements of LSF plus the original local sign languages over time, these have melded and changed into a rich, complex, and mature language. Modern ASL and modern LSF are distinct languages. While they still contain some similar signs, they can no longer be understood by each others users.

Sign Language Should Count As A Foreign Language

In recognition of the multicultural world in which we live, most majors at Baylor require the study of a language other than English. I understand that. What I dont understand is why Baylor does not recognize a language that is the only option for millions of people worldwide: sign language. Baylors own department of modern languages and cultures website cites the need for proficiency in a second language to be able to participate in todays multicultural society and global community. The website also points to Baylors Mission Statement: The mission of Baylor University is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community. Do those millions who are deaf not deserve to be served by our academic excellence and Christian commitment? Baylor should recognize the value of the deaf community and culture by allowing all students to study American Sign Language as part of their degree plan.

I am particularly interested in this subject because I am a journalism and political science major and a sign language interpreting minor.

In my degree plan I have several options for my language requirement, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Akkadian, Aramaic, Syriac, and Ugaritic.

Kalyn Story is a sophomore journalism and political science double major from Chicago.

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