American Sign Language (ASL) is one of the fastest growing languages
of study in the United States for a variety of reasons. What could be
some of the reasons why people want and decide to learn ASL?
The reasons vary widely from personal to professional. Most of
the ASL students give their reason as “wanting to be able to
communicate” with their Deaf relative, neighbor, or co-worker.
High schools offer ASL as a foreign language study along with
Spanish, Japanese, and other languages. Taking ASL meets the high school
graduation requirements for a foreign language. Some of the students
take ASL because they think it improves their acting abilities or
enhances their visual acuity. There have been reports that students take
ASL because they wanted to date someone who was Deaf. Sometimes
students who have been recognized as mainly visual learners think
studying ASL will benefit them. Some of those students always wanted to
learn more ASL since learning fingerspelling as a child.
College students are required to take a foreign language and many
consider ASL an interesting choice. Serious students of ASL may even
choose their college to major in Deaf Studies, or Deaf Education. Those
who continue to study ASL and Deaf Culture may eventually decide on
careers that involve the ability to speak ASL such as teachers of deaf
students or community/educational interpreters.
Sometimes professionals like EMTs, police, firemen, or emergency
responders decide to learn ASL because it will enhance their ability to
communicate with Deaf people they come across in their dealings with the
Parents with newly-identified Deaf babies and Deaf children
could decide to study ASL as the language of choice for their family.
Parents believe that speaking ASL is a sure way for their Deaf child to
acquire language, and fluent ASL is a wonderful path to eventually
acquire English as a second language. Teaching ASL signs to hearing
babies has also become a proven way to increase early communication
between parents and babies and is more widespread and popular than ever.
Clearly, there is more than one reason why students take ASL.
People take ASL for fun or necessity, and get a glimpse into a
fascinating culture with the prospect of meeting people they might not
meet in their daily lives.