October 15, 2018
Should Schools Offer Sign Language in Addition to Foreign Language?
“One in eight people in the United States aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both
ears, based on standard hearing examinations.”(Lin, FR). Sign language has been proven to
benefit not only the deaf community but also hearing people. By offering sign language hearing,
people can strengthen their brains. Literacy and communication are ways sign language help
hearing people. Cochlear implants don’t work for everybody. Schools should offer sign
language in addition to foreign language.
One might object to sign language being taught in schools. Some of their arguments are:
1. Sign language will confuse children while they are trying to learn English.
2. There are devices that allow deaf people to hear.
3. Where would the money come from to pay for sign language teachers?
“The National Assessment of Educational Progress tested children nationwide for reading
skills. The results for reading tests for fourth-grade students were: Below the most basic level 38
percent; Proficient 31 percent, and Advanced 7 percent.” The highest percentage showed that
children were below the necessary level of reading. Children have a hard time learning English.
Let’s face it it is a hard language to learn. Why then would it be a good idea to make children
learn another language? Sign language takes English and rearranges the words in a broken way;
this could cause the children to be confused. The confusion could lead to learning deficits later in
According to Hear-it.org, “It is estimated that 90 percent of children and 80 percent of
adults with cochlear implants improve their hearing.” With the success rates of the cochlear
device being so high they need to learn sign language is unnecessary. If all the deaf and hard of
hearing people went get a cochlear implant, everyone would be able to communicate with each
other without having to learn another language.
Where would the money come from to pay for sign language teachers? Most people
know that each education system has an allotted amount of money to use. Nine out of ten times
the education system uses all of their money and goes over. So where would the money come
from to pay for another teacher and all of their supplies? The likely answer to those questions is
the taxpayers. It is not like we do not already have to pay enough taxes, but it would be
reasonable to say that the people would be paying for it. All that being said is it that important to
teach sign language in schools?
Hearing children benefit from the use of sign language. In an article called “An
Alternative Approach to Early Literacy: The Effects of ASL in Educational Media on Literacy
Skills Acquisition for Hearing Children.” published in the “Early Childhood Education Journal”
Theorists suggest that individuals learn to read through 'dual coding' and may benefit from more
than one route to literacy. Deaf children learn how to read with just sign language, but that does
not mean that those children would not benefit from being able to hear. Hearing children learn
how to read for the most part by listening to others read. If deaf children would benefit from
hearing; hearing children can benefit from visuals like sign language. The study done in this
article showed that not all hearing children learn the best through just listening; they also need
visuals. Sign language is proven to be a great visual for hearing children to literacy.
Sign language can be used to communicate with others in an early stage of life. “Sign
language hastens speech development, reduces frustration in young children by giving them the
means to express themselves before they know how to talk, increases parent-child bonding, and
lets babies communicate vital information, such as if they are hurt, or hungry.”(Glairon, S). “A
2000 study funded by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, shows
that young children who learn sign language speak sooner than other children.” (Glairon, 2003).
Young children speak sooner when they learn sign language because it is easier for the child to
put a motion and a visual with words and phrases. Also, repetition of movements that are linked
to meanings helps brains to form connections faster. Sign language allows children struggling
with other disabilities other than hearing problems to be able to communicate more adequately.
Children learn to spell and memorize things quicker when sign language is used in addition to
how they normally learn.
Cochlear implants do not work for everyone. One of the main reasons why they do not
work for everyone is because the cost of the procedure is high. The average cost for a cochlear
implant is about $100,000. Another reason is that their auditory nerve is nonfunctional. “The
auditory nerve is a bundle of nerve fibers that carries hearing information between the cochlea
and the brain.” If the auditory nerve does not work then the cochlear implant which replaces the
cochlea would be useless because there would be no way for the hearing information to be
carried to the brain. The third main reason is that some parts of the deaf culture believe a
cochlear implant to be unnecessary and a breach of cultural integrity. Most deaf people do not
find it to be a problem they need to solve. They believe it is their identity and to get a surgery
that would give them some hearing would take away that identity. Deaf people find pride in their
deafness. A cochlear implant is not necessary because as an active member of the deaf
community sign language is used all the time And with today’s technology most of the
communication barriers disappear.
There is a large percentage of the United States that are deaf. They all know English. The
only difference is that they use sign language to communicate. Sign language is more natural to
learn at a young age with consistency. Why should we learn other languages that aren’t even in
our own country as compared to deaf people? The deaf community is like this whole other world
in our backyards. Let us take down the walls, learn sign language, and be able to communicate
with more people in our own country. Also the chances of becoming deaf after the age of 60 is
greatly increased. That being said if sign language was learned in school and than later on in life
they became deaf or hard of hearing they would benefit from learning sign language earlier in
life. Imagine not being able to communicate with loved; how would that feel?
There is no doubt that learning sign language benefits hearing people. Sign language
helps children learn to read easier, communicate faster, and help memorize quicker. These are all
steps that we want our children to be extraordinary at, and sign language can get them there. The
cost of cochlear implants is expensive. Why would we make deaf people get an expensive
surgery that might not work or make them feel like they are losing themselves? Why? When we
can easily include sign language in our curriculum and be able to communicate with more people
in our country. With all the benefits that come with learning sign language it should be offered at
schools. Is it right that the deaf community is excluded from the hearing world? If your child was
deaf would you want other hearing children to learn sign language? There is always a chance of
losing hearing. Imagine how that would affect a hearing persons life. Imagine the struggles they
would face. Everything you just imagined is what deaf people go through daily. Let's be
understanding. Let’s learn sign language so we can help them, but also benefit ourselves.
American Sign Language (ASL),
Hartman, Christina. “Why Don't All Deaf People Get Cochlear Implants? Is It Only a Financial
Problem, or Do Cochlear Implants Only Work for Some Types of Deafness?” Quora - A
Place to Share Knowledge and Better Understand the World, 2013, www.quora.com/.
Larson, Bethany C., and I.Joyce Chang. “Enhancing Hearing Children’s Memory With American
Sign Language.” Intervention in School & Clinic, vol. 42, no. 4, Mar. 2007, pp. 239–242.
Lin FR, Niparko JK, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss prevalence in the United States. (link is
external)[Letter] Arch Intern Med. 2011 Nov 14; 171(20): 1851-1852.
Moses, Annie, et al. “An Alternative Approach to Early Literacy: The Effects of ASL in
Educational Media on Literacy Skills Acquisition for Hearing Children.” Early
Childhood Education Journal, vol. 43, no. 6, Nov. 2015, pp. 485–494. EBSCOhost,
“The World's #1 Website on Hearing.” Hear-It.org, www.hear-it.org/.
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1999, March. The
Executive Summary of the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress Reading
Report Card for the Nation, NCES 1999-50, Washington, DC