Because of a (yet another) resurgence of worrying sign language videos taught incorrectly, this is an important video for everyone to learn why you should learn sign language from deaf people.
This is especially important if you want to be as fluent, natural and authentic as possible when signing…which is something I imagine you would like to be. In this post, you will learn various reasons why it’s so important to learn sign language from deaf people.
You can watch the video below…
…listen to the podcast…
…or read the transcript instead.
This is an important topic, and if you want to learn sign language, you must know this. You must know the answer to why you should learn sign language from deaf people. And the reason I have to talk about it, because there seems to be a huge resurgence (again) on people who are teaching sign language when they shouldn’t because they don’t know how to. They’re not fluent in it. They are giving out the wrong information. They’re just doing it for attention and for the social clout.
And these are all very dangerous things to happen in a world/community where it is already oppressed and you’re trying to break down communication barriers, but you have people who are actually contributing to the barrier.
So this really is an important topic on why you should learn sign language from deaf people.
It seems that many people, when they go and learn sign language, they do it via looking at the wrong avenue and they go at those hearing people who are on social media and then look at those “fascinating, fun and interesting videos” and they are just showing the language that, “oh, my God, I can learn from there” because it looks attractive or it look to be engaging or that person seems to know what they’re talking about.
Most of the time they don’t. And that seems to be a thing, especially with social media now, there huge, huge attention focused on hearing people and even people who are beginners themselves, they’re not even fluent. They teach language, and that’s dangerous.
Seriously…beginners teaching sign language when they are also beginners. What is the world coming to?!
A lot of the time, the people who are teaching tend to do it for the attention. They get good social media engagement out of it. It looks fun and interesting.
It all for social clout.
Because it’s such a visual language, people look at it the first time and it’s like mesmerising. And when people do it for the wrong reason, like getting social media engagement, then you are adding to the problem that already exist in the deaf community, which is just pushing those people away, closing them down or pressing them even more building barriers, not even breaking down the communication barriers. You’re increasing it. You’re adding more bricks to the wall and those walls are high enough as it is.
So if you do want to learn sign language, make sure you find the right resources, the right people who are fluent/native signers themselves.
And that’s the best way to do it.
And I’m going to go through why you should always learn from deaf people anyway who fit that category. I’m lucky that I’m able to do that. I’m learning from the right people. They are in a deaf community. Their first language is sign language, and that’s where it should be.
But here are some more reasons why you should always focus on learning sign language from deaf people.
1. Learn about the culture and history of sign language
Number one: it’s not just about the language. It’s also about the culture and the history around it. And a lot of the time, people don’t really teach you that when you learn from social media, anything like that. It looks just fun and engaging, but you don’t learn about the history and story behind it, which are so, so important.
Because that adds another level of depth to your language learning and that applies to any languages. If you are going to learn a language, you should really learn about the culture as well.
2. Learn the right information
Number two: you are less likely to be taught the wrong information, and this is something that happens a lot, when you see people teach sign language and they shouldn’t be, they tend to be wrong information.
And just imagine the damage that that could cause when you’re supposed to be helping with the communication and allowing to be as smooth as possible. And it’s not. But if you’re learning from people who are native and they’re actually qualified to teach it, well, then you’re less likely to be taught wrong information.
And frankly, I prefer to be taught the real thing.
3. Learn the nuances, jargons and slangs
Number three: you learn those nuances and jargons and slangs that you can’t really learn from other people, especially if they’re not native, especially to a beginner.
Those are important part of communication in languages for anyone. So you’ll be able to learn those as well.
4. Learn the local dialects
And on top of that, the fourth one is that you’ll be able to learn the local dialects. Again, just like any language, you’d be able to learn certain dialects that only apply to your area.
And before you suggest “it’s just another thing to learn”, again, every single language has a local dialect that you’d want to learn otherwise.
What’s the point of learning a language if you don’t want to communicate like a local?
5. Help deaf people to gain rightful employment
A big part of why you should learn from deaf people as well if you’re going to help them to gain employment. And that’s really important because deaf people and hard of hearing people are less likely to be employed than those who are hearing and I’ve seen that, and I’ve experienced that.
It’s a known statistic and there are research, a known fact.
And if you’re going to be focusing on those who are not qualified or not even able to teach properly, then you are pushing away those who are qualified, who are able to have the job, but you’re shutting them down when they are the most qualified people who can do the job.
6. Contribute to the growth of the deaf ecosystem
You’re also contributing to the deaf ecosystem, allowing that to flourish and to grow and allowing that to be thriving and it’s a beautiful place to be. Because again, we’re so oppressed that people don’t see it and they’re not allowed to be out there enough because of lack of accessibility, a lack of resources, lack of reach, barriers, etc.
But if you’re contributing to that, if you’re helping people to be the best version of themselves and allowing them to be part of society like we all deserve to be, then that’s a beautiful thing. You are allowing a community to thrive for the right reason.
7. Become a more fluent and authentic signer
And then finally, very important for anyone who want to learn language, you will more likely to become more fluent and more authentic. Isn’t that not what you want when you want to learn any language?
Sign language is the same. You just want to make sure that you are learning from the best people, the best resources, the best information, so that you sign as authentic as possible.
That’s so good. That’s so important. Why is that hard to understand for some people? Isn’t that not what you want, when you want to learn any language?
Think about any language that you want to learn; French and Spanish and Chinese and Portuguese, anything. Think about who you want to learn from, and the majority of the time, you want to learn from those who are qualified, but also those who are native in that language.
And they’re the best people to learn from because you will get everything in there; that another layer of fluency and authenticity and all these things and the same applied when you learning sign language.
So think about who you would rather learn from, who you’d get more benefit from, rather than who looks more interesting because of social media. That’s the wrong reason to learn from that person.
Finding a deaf sign language teacher
So what do you do then? Well, just ask your local deaf community, find out where they all congregate. Is it online? Is it a Facebook Group? Is t another website? Look at social media for those who are really talented [inaudible] and follow them, support them, communicate with them. And you never know, you build a relationship with them that they will able to help you as well.
It’s quite simple when you have that technology and resources to do that. Certain part of world, it might be more tricky. But you have to ask around and just find your path, find the right way. From there, your journey, I promise you, would be much more fulfilling, much more thriving, much more engaging and just more fun and authentic.
And that’s what you want when you want to learn sign language. And just again, think about why you want to learn in the first place. It shouldn’t be because “it’s beautiful”.
What are the benefits of learning sign language?
Apart from the obvious, there are many reasons why you should consider learning sign language
It is beautiful, but that’s not the point. People always say “oh, sign language is beautiful, it’s amazing”. Yes, I get that. But there are other reasons to learn it. Like, you know, communication.
Just go back to that first step. Why do you want to learn it? And if it’s about breaking down the communication barrier and engaging with deaf people, that the best reason to learn, not because of social clout.
Because it’s such a visual language, it is very easy to focus on the attention that you will probably get from learning sign language.
But that’s the wrong reason to do it for the social clout, do it for the right reason. I don’t really have to explain why you should do it that way. You’re smart enough, you know why.
What do you think about this suggestion? If you disagree, let me know in the comment, because I would love to learn from you. Why do you think you should focus on certain people who are not qualified to teach?
But I hope this will guide you on the right way and I hope you’ll be on a more fulfilling path that will get you in a place which is to be as fluent as possible in the sign language that you want to choose.
Let me know what you think in a comment.
In the meantime, I will speak to you again soon. Take care!
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Gregg Degn says