Sign language should be taught in school, just like other languages


Credit: Universal Life Church

Sign language is a language that uses manual articulations to communicate. Just like spoken languages, it has its own grammar and lexicon. Different countries have their own versions of sign language. Even between the US, Canada, England, and Australia, there are different types of sign language even though they are all English-speaking countries.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 430 million people around the world who suffer from some degree of hearing loss. Of that number, only one percent use sign language. Hearing children expand their vocabulary by picking up words that people around them use.But deaf children in hearing families are not exposed to sign language and therefore do not learn new words, which limits their ability to communicate. In fact, 90% to 95% of deaf children born in hearing families never learn sign language. Instead, some have cochlear implants or hearing aids which allows them to lipread or use auditory cues, while others use pen and paper.

This is why schools should offer sign language as a foreign language. There are many benefits to learning sign language. Firstly, the language allows one to communicate with a whole new community. While most deaf people can read lips, it is more difficult because many words have identical lip movements even though they make different sounds. Having more career opportunities is another advantage. Knowing sign language in the medical field can be useful because it allows doctors and nurses to communicate with deaf patients.

Further, it is easier for young people to learn a new language, which is why it is best for people to learn it while still in school. Children under eighteen years old can learn a new language very easily, as the brain is more flexible. After age eighteen, the ability to learn a new language declines. Contrary to popular belief, learning sign language as a child does not slow down speech development; it actually speeds it up. According to Toledo Parent, children who learn sign language have improved test scores in school and boosts memory, critical thinking, concentration, and problem-solving. Sign language can be useful for young children because it allows them another way to communicate and hopefully not get frustrated when they are not understood.

Santa Clara High School offers three levels of sign language courses for its students. Students learn not just sign language, but the culture and art of the deaf community. Several students at Fremont High School are indeed interested in learning sign language.
“I’ve been wanting to take ASL, but the only way I can take it is as a college course,” FHS sophomore Lydia Malashock said.
With all the aforementioned benefits to learning sign language, FHS should put in the effort to teach it to as many students as possible. Teaching sign language to students would be very useful and there are many clear advantages to knowing it.