How hard it is to learn sign language? how long to learn it?

Discussion in 'Our World, Our Culture' started by Buffalo, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. Buffalo

    Buffalo Active Member

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    I learned sign language on the sly in the oral school therefore I can't answer this question myself. I have often wondered how hard it is for a hearing person to learn sign language and how long it take them to be really good. I also would like to hear from deaf people who learned sign langage after high school, too. I have seen many hearing people sign - some good and some lousy. Once a woman told me that it is very hard. I've noticed that like foreign languages, it is best to learn a different language while young.
     
  2. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    I'm a hearie with a deaf son (now grown). I started learning sign language 20 years ago, and I did it an an unusual way. I went to a Deaf club and just hung around with the people there instead of taking a class, because the classes for parents were few and far between back then. That is how my son was first exposed to ASL, as well. I found that being put in the situation of having to use it to communicate with people facilitated my developing fluency much quicker. The most difficult thing for me was learning to think in a visual saptial syntax rather than the linear one that you use with English. After a time though, I could almost feel my brain switching over when my hands started to do my talking.

    I've been signing for 20 years, and when I am in a group of native signers, I can still learn something new.
     
  3. Schermy

    Schermy New Member

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    I am hearing. How hard was it to learn? I found it to be easy. I have always had an open mind when approching the language. I think the biggest problem hearing people have is trying to sign "exactly perfect" and focus on that instead of the other aspects like body language and expression. I think that they sometimes don't understand that there are variations of a sign and that there is not and "exact" sign for every word. If people get past that it's not hard to learn. It is easier to learn any language when you are younger but not impossible. Right now I am learning Russian for work. :eek3: Now that is hard! Just trying to say some of those words is dificult but I'm trying to keep the "open mind" approach that I used with ASL and learn it.
     
  4. nowits_done

    nowits_done New Member

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    It took me less than a year to call my self proefficent, or in other words sign conceptually accurate while in the same word order as English, now I think it will take me about 3 months or so working on grammar before I could become fluent in real ASL.

    Then again, language is my drug, so I don't know about other people. :D
     
  5. Calphool

    Calphool New Member

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    I'm a hearie... been signing for about a year. I can hold a conversation with a deaf person, but I'm pretty much signing PSE. I'm still at the stage where I'm learning something new with each conversation. A deaf friend said that it usually takes a hearing person about 2 years to become proficient enough to not "bother" the deafie when they're signing.
     
  6. Jolie77

    Jolie77 New Member Premium Member

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    Yeah, It varies from a person to another person. From what I see, some hearing people are proficient in a short time but for some of them, it takes a while to pick up to be proficient.

    My mother who is hearing, still isn't that proficient in ASL. She can sign very well for a deaf person to understand her but she has the "habit" of going back to SEE. She also said that no matter how long she has been trying to sign in ASL, somewhere in her tends to go back to SEE.

    Whereas, my cousin's mother did not sign that well when I was growing up but after she took ASL courses at Eastern Kentucky Univeristy for 2 years, she became proficient.

    So, Like I said, It varies. (But I'm sure you're aware of this though.) ;)
     
  7. JClarke

    JClarke AD Veteran Premium Member

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    I am from australia, and currently I have been learning ASL on and off for 8 years still, I can still make a basic conversation with the ASL with other american friends. I am deaf myself, but it takes a while to learn ASL fluently.
     
  8. diehardbiker

    diehardbiker Active Member

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    FYI...
    English is the toughest language in the whole world. Much tougher than ASL, and guess what... If you learn English, then learning ASL won't be that tough.
     
  9. Southern

    Southern New Member

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    I'm hearing. I learned 1,000 signs in 7 weeks. I started that 7 weeks almost a year ago and have learned new signs along the way. Many Deaf have mistaken me for Deaf and i sign PSE rather that true ASL. I am taking classes to become an interpreter. The students think i am lightning fast, although that was ASL 1 and most had never seen sign language before. I picked it up very quickly so i would say i am very different from most people. It helps though that i am with Deafies so much, and my bestfriend is Deaf. If i wasn't with Deafies so much i think it would be much different.
     
  10. sr171soars

    sr171soars New Member

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    To digress a little...

    Er...isn't that in the eye of the beholder? Try Basque. Very, very difficult language to learn. Worst yet, it is an isolate language in which there is no current language that is related to it. Whereas English is an Indo-European language and has roots in Latin, Celtic, German and a smattering of others.

    Back to regular programming...:whistle:
     
  11. Interpretrator

    Interpretrator Crime fighter Premium Member

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    Which is exactly what makes it so difficult to learn. For that reason, spelling alone is a nightmare for English language learners, not to mention the labyrinth of inconsistent grammatical rules.

    Don't get me wrong -- I adore English and am finishing my master's in TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) because I love the language so much. But in the field there's a consensus that English is an extremely difficult language for non-native speakers.

    It's all well and good to compare it with Basque at a purely academic level but in reality many many more people are going to have to learn English (deaf and hearing) in order to function in English-speaking countries (and, increasingly, other countries whose traditional first language is not English).

    But after all this I agree you can't really say something is THE most difficult language because it's very subjective for everyone. Some people are always going to be better at learning it than others.
     
  12. Buffalo

    Buffalo Active Member

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    Thank you for your responses. I applaud those who learn sign language for their deaf child.
    I know a guy who learn sign language by hanging out at the bar that is in the undergound tunnel back at NTID. That is how he got to be so good.
    I look up on the Net to see what is the most difficult language to learn and there is no clear winner. Chinese, Japanese, Arabic are the most difficult. It seems that the more different the language is from the native language, the harder it is to learn.
    Thanks again.
     
  13. Liebling:-)))

    Liebling:-))) Sussi *7.7.86 - 18.6.09* Premium Member

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    Well, my both boys are hearing. I sign to them since they were babies. I don't change anything for them but myself because I want them know what I am and want to know what they are.

    They look at us and learn to know us and our movement... Now my both boys are preteenager and teenager... They sign prefect like deafies. They can living both worlds.

    My co-worker, I work together in the same office for over 16 years - She started to want me to teach her how to sign at 10 years ago. I taught her... It takes her time to time until she is able to sign... It's about moviation... You can learn quickly when you have a good moviation...
     
  14. sr171soars

    sr171soars New Member

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    That was my point... :D It is very subjective and depending on the individual.

    You're right that English is too much of a hodge podge language to make lots of sense to a non native speaker. Heck, it sometimes doesn't make sense to us... ;)
     
  15. hohDougRN

    hohDougRN New Member

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    thats a very open question. like anything new I guess you get out what you put into it. having a desire helps too.
     
  16. restless_heart

    restless_heart New Member

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    I have the same problem. I was taught and raise learning SEE. Everytime I try to learn ASL, I kept going back into my old habit, SEE. It was pretty hard for me to focus on ASL and maybe PSE also. My best friend and I were still using SEE now, but we have started going to club or bowling last April. We always use fingerspelling in excat English and very, very little sign. Some people had trouble understanding us because we fingerspell real fast, we kept forgetting we had to use ASL, not SEE. We are still learning. It takes time. We have to wait till September to go back and keep learning if we hang around with deaf people who use ASL or PSE more. We both were in hearing world way too long and never changed our SEE signs. It is like we are learning a new langauage ASL that we never knew exists until last April.
     
  17. shel90

    shel90 Audist are not welcome Premium Member

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    Grew up oral like u, Baffalo. Learned signing at the age of 26 by taking ASL classes at ASU in 95. However, I didnt become fluent so quickly cuz I was pregnant wtih my 1st daughter, married and didnt have the time to socialize with other deafies to improve my ASL skills...also, many deaf people in the AZ Deaf community knew who I was and didnt like me cuz I looked down on them growing up thinking I was superior to them due to having oral skills. So, when I tried interacting with them to improve my signing, they laughed at me..cant blame them but I didnt give up. After 2 years of taking ASL classes, I was signing very slow and very awkwardly. Then, in 99, my family and I moved to DC so I could go to Gallaudet University for grad school. By being immersed in ASL alll day, I became fluent within the first year there. Like HoHDougRN said...it depends on your desire. During the first 4 years, I didnt have the desire for it cuz I still identified myself as "hearing" but when I went to Gallaudet, my desire grew as I went thru an identity change. I am so glad that I did it...was worth my divorce, my credit card debt and bad roommates..LOL!
     

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