Languages are critical for every human being. Without it, we may fail to express our emotions and thoughts. It is a part of human connection and helps us establish a strong bond with others. Unfortunately, many of us are unable to communicate using words. In such cases, sign language helps us express ourselves. Sign languages promote cultural awareness and offer intellectual benefits to their users. To protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all sign users, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Sign Languages every year. This year, the International Day of Sign Languages is marked to highlight the importance of sign languages in uniting people.
Let us understand the importance of sign language and why marking a special day for this language is crucial.
Why Do We Celebrate International Day of Sign Language?
The UN General Assembly has declared 23 September as the day to celebrate the International Day of Sign Languages in order to raise awareness of the importance of sign languages. Moreover, the day also focuses on how these languages promote inclusivity. Today, the number of deaf people stands at 70 million across the globe, and out of these people, almost 80% of deaf individuals reside in developing countries. These people use more than 300 languages; therefore, raising awareness about the importance of such languages becomes essential.
Sign languages differ from spoken languages as these have different lexicons. In addition to standard sign language, there are international sign languages. These languages are used by deaf people in international meetings. Moreover, they also use this language when socializing with others.
What is the Theme of the International Day of Sign Languages 2022?
The theme for the International Day of Sign Languages 2022 is “Sign Languages Unite Us.” These languages generate unity and help people exchange ideas and express themselves openly without restrictions.
The Need to Learn Sign Languages
Learning sign language from an early age makes the learner more empathetic to people with hearing challenges. The language has also shown a positive impact on improving the critical thinking abilities of learners. Other reasons to support why anyone should learn this language are mentioned below.
- Growing popularity
The art of learning and understanding sign languages has gained popularity in recent times. Many colleges and universities use sign languages to connect better with hearing-impaired students. Learning this language will help teachers and students establish a strong bond among themselves. There are more than 300 sign languages and each one has a different dialect and accent. Moreover, these languages are dynamic and keep changing over time. Therefore, using them in daily communication becomes crucial if teachers want to provide a healthy and nurturing learning environment to students.
- Good for brain health
It has been observed that people who speak more than one language are intelligent. Moreover, they are good at remembering things. Also, learning a foreign language has a significant impact on the size of the brain. It enhances brain size and keeps people away from Alzheimer's disease.
- Immeasurable awards
Learning sign language is the best way to communicate with people who face issues while listening. Moreover, sign languages make an individual more empathic and help them understand the concerns of people with hearing disabilities.
- Effective communication
Learning sign languages is crucial for people when they want to communicate with deaf or hearing-impaired people. Nearly 5% of the world population faces hearing problems, and sign language is one of the ways that can help people communicate with individuals who have a hearing impairment.
- Become smart
Learning sign languages boosts cognitive functions and reasoning, empowers memory, and improves communication skills. Moreover, knowledge of a second language promotes IQ levels in individuals.
Learning sign language is crucial for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the lives of hearing-impaired individuals. This language brings people closer and improves their communication skills. On this International Day of Sign Languages, we can pledge to learn this language to create an inclusive environment for people suffering from hearing disabilities.
How Can Teachers Bring Sign Languages to Classrooms?
Using sign language in the classroom is fun for students. At the same time, it also gives them the opportunity to understand the views and opinions of hearing-impaired people. Moreover, they can understand cultural differences and help in the creation of an inclusive society.
Teachers play a crucial role in making students learn this language. They can bring sign language to the classroom by following the tips mentioned below.
- Greetings and responses
Teachers can use greetings to introduce sign languages in their classrooms. Greetings and gestures are often the first things that happen when we meet people. During the interaction, we can ask for their name or wave a hello. Including these gestures in everyday activities can help students become aware of simple sign language. Once students are accustomed to these signs, teachers can help them level up by introducing complex gestures or hand movements.
Teachers can use sign language to communicate with students in the middle of lectures. Using these languages does not disturb the classroom momentum, and at the same time, teachers can establish a secure communication medium with students. They can pick a few signs that match their instructions. For example, they can use actions to make their students sit down or stand up during the lesson.
Songs are a fantastic way to make students learn sign languages. Many artists have converted popular songs and rhymes into sign languages. Teachers can find such resources on the internet and use videos to teach the importance of sign language. They can make students learn the songs. Moreover, turning on the subtitles will help students understand the lyrics better.
- Alphabet signs
Introducing finger spelling for the alphabet is one of the ways that can help teachers make students learn sign language. To start the session using alphabet signs, teachers can use the first letter of students' names.
- Ask an expert
Asking for help from an individual from a deaf community can also help students. Teachers can invite experts from this particular community to visit their classes. Their sessions can help students practice whatever they have learned in the classroom. Moreover, they will get better insights into the culture and history of the deaf community.
Keeping sign language classes fun and entertaining can help students take more interest in learning this language. Learning other languages is difficult, but keeping students motivated throughout the lectures can help them dive deeper into the subject.
How can All Students Get the Benefits of Sign Language?
Introducing sign languages in the classroom can help every student. Students having hearing issues can communicate more effectively after taking these classes. Similarly, other students get the opportunity to learn a second language. Moreover, students get to understand the rich heritage and culture of deaf communities. Students without hearing-impairment also know how they can communicate their thoughts and ideas to deaf students without making errors. Moreover, learning sign language also gives students the opportunity to embrace diversity and understand how different cultures can co-exist.
Sign language can be considered a second language for people without hearing impairment. For individuals with hearing impairment, this language acts as their savior and helps them convey their thoughts and emotions efficiently. This year, we can start learning sign languages on the day of the International Day of Sign Languages.
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