ASL is more than a language; it is a miracle. I find myself often perplexed by the difficulty that must have come with making a language solely from hands. It is amazing that there was a nationwide speaking of the hands for the deaf community and anyone who is interested to learn can Join in easily, but only if they can hoop over some of the languages major challenges. In the article “Why is Learning American Sign Language a Challenge? ” by Professor Mike Kent, he discusses the top 5 ASL challenges he has come across.
The first challenge being social dominance patterns and attitude. This challenge is definitely a struggle for many new learners. People think that the deaf are nothing more than handicapped human beings that can’t do normal acts like the rest of the population. Referring to the motivation portion of Professor Kent’s article we find that there are 2 types of motivations when it comes to learning ASL. Thus the view that a person has of being above the deaf most commonly comes from the instrumentally motivated because they often lack the contact with the deaf community.
The nstrumentally motivated have ties to the deaf community and are less likely to think of themselves as above the hearing impaired. The aspect of culture and attitude also fits in with the social dominance challenge. It is challenging to master the correct sign etiquette in the culture and also you must have a positive attitude about sign language because a negative attitude is easy to spot. A second challenge when it comes to learning American Sign Language people often run into is properties of Ll grammar transferred into L2 grammar. This may be the second most challenging bstacle to get over when learning ASL.
The constant grammatical difference especially with question sentence with the W question words. In English we are used to putting the question word at the beginning of our sentences but in ASL the words are placed at the end. Like in the article the example of a native Spanish speaker learning English is a brilliant comparison. Congruence, which is personally the most challenging aspect of American Sign Language for me, is another challenge mentioned in the article. It is definitely hard to gain the confidence to communicate roudly in a brand new language instead of a native language.
The constant fear of messing up, not fitting in, or sounding/looking Just plain stupid is always leering. This is especially the case in ASL. There are many things to take in consideration when it comes to ASL such as proper etiquette which also goes along with culture. From getting a person attention, having a conversation in a crowded room, or being in the way of a two peoples sight view of signs. There are exact ways that would be appropriate to handle these things but a slight mishap can make you come off as ery rude.
This is definitely a major challenge when learning a new language because it all comes down to different cultures. ASL is like a culture in its way that it has its own acceptable behaviors and unacceptable behaviors. A four challenge mentioned is language shock. ASL is something that definitely takes a while to get used to. When someone all of a sudden has to use there hands in a certain way and also bend their fingers and arms at angles that are not normally used. That’s why it is super important to do hand stretchers so it is possible to get the most hand motion and ot mouth or say what you are trying to sign.
This is very difficult and can become a major challenge in the very beginning and can be frustrating but it’s essential to only use your hands when communicating with a deaf person. Patience is key. The final challenge is that there are two types of motivations that gives people the will to learn sign language. These people fall into 2 categories. One, instrumental motivation is for all those people that want to benefit in there career with another language or are asked to take classes for a Job. This person will Just go to pass the tests but will quickly learn and forget the language.
Even in our case as students it is technically an intellectual motivation for our degree but for many there is an actual reason they wanted to take ASL. When there is an outside motivation people are categorized as integratively motivated learners. These people have a significant person in their life that is deaf and only communicates through ASL or a friend or a colleague. Their motivation is stronger and the language will stick with them longer. If I had to choose ne of the above 5 most challenging things about ASL, my personal challenge would be congruence and culture.
As the article mentioned sometimes ASL can feel like a revolving door that becomes too late to enter if you miss some parts for new learners. I have found myself feeling this way often. Once a conversation starts going at (which often seem hyper speed) I feel helpless because I don’t know what’s going on when I miss important parts of the conversation. I find it also very challenging to not want to use my voice as I sign. I know deaf people I am communicating with won’t hear it, but hey will see my mouth moving and that can often be distracting.
As for Professor Kent’s summary I would say I would agree with what he says. ASL is a language that can be easily forgotten and I do think that learners go through various stages. I remember when I started learning I was super excited because I was learning and memorizing everything so quickly and was quite impressed with myself. Then it does become challenging with the implied grammar rules and culture shock challenges. If you do not continue learning American Sign Language it will be forgotten.
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