Is Sign Language Difficult To Learn?

Many people ponder over the question of whether the sign language is really difficult to learn or not. Many consider it an easy task simply by various misconceptions which are received by hearing people out. The truth is that it can be a challenge too. It is basically similar to learning a new language on a whole. This thought of learning sign language in, similar to other languages is put forth by ASL.  A list of languages has been put forth by the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State, which is being categorized based on the difficulty of learning mainly for native English speakers.

This is structured based on the time taken to learn the language, the speaking proficiency which can be achieved at the end etc. Some of these categories include languages which are related to English like the Italian, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, French etc. Then there are categories which include the languages that are similar to English as the German. This approximately takes almost 30 weeks to learn. The next category comes with languages which are different in culture and also in their linguistic techniques. Such languages are something like the Malaysian, Indonesian, Swahili etc.

Then comes the next category which is filled with languages that contain major cultural and linguistic differences in comparison with English. These include Ukrainian, Finnish, Polish, Zulu, Nepali, Latvian etc. This almost takes 44 weeks to learn. The final category includes the Japanese, Korean, Cantonese, Arabic, Mandarin, etc which is termed as the most difficult to learn. Thinking about ASL, it was confusing to pick a category for it. The Foreign Service Institute brought in the proposal, saying that sign language should be placed in the fourth category.

It was considered that an average English speaker should put in at least 1320 hours in order to earn proficiency in sign language. This will be on level 2 in ASL. While there is no concrete support of the category that ASL falls into, many have gone by the statement that ASL will definitely not fall into the first category. This might be because ASL is considerably different from English based on linguistic and on the phonological level also taking in the phonetic to morphological and including the syntactical.

ASL is also known to have a difficult grammatical construction far above the basics and the language is rich in nature. Since the culture and modality of the language are different it adds some difficulty too.

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