30 Before 30 / Bits & Bites

30 Before 30: 15 – Learn Sign Language

Learning a new language is a common bucket list item, but I feel people usually limit themselves to learning the romance languages like French, Italian, or Spanish, often based on places they’d like to visit.  Few people realize sign lanugage is an ACTUAL language that must be learned just like any other.  I have always picked up languages on the quick side and I thought this would be a fun challenge for me.  I’ll be honest, I became even more interested in learning ASL after watching “Switched at Birth,” the ABC Family show that is clearly meant for teens but that I watch in my late-20s.

Since I’m no longer in college and able to sign up for random classes, I took advantage of my own portable classroom, the iPad.  There’s an app for everything nowadays.  And there it was, right there in the app store: Marlee Signs.  In this free app, Academy Award Winner Marlee Matlin (who coincidentally stars in “Switched at Birth”) teaches the ASL alphabet as well as some common phrases through short videos.

I downloaded the app a while ago but didn’t open it up until I was bored on a plane.  I was surprised by how quickly I was able to pick it up.  Just a few more sessions with the app and I feel like I’ve got the hang of it.  I am by no means fluent – not even close – but I know enough that I can hold a [VERY limited] conversation with someone who is hearing impaired.  Like with any language, if you don’t use it, you lose it.  I started my self-education back in December and when I tried again in April, I was extremely rusty.  I need to practice constantly if I want to actually converse with someone via ASL.  I haven’t encountered many situations where I will be able to put this new skill to use, but it’s nice to know I can pull it out if necessary.

sign language2

sign language1

Date of Completion: 12/31/14…and 4/17/15…and 5/8/15

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