Last year I completed the long part-time journey to a Cert II in Auslan. I am hoping to start my Cert III next year, if I can remember anything from last year! I’ve really enjoyed studying Auslan and I am proud of achieving my certificate.
But I was asked recently why I learn a ‘deaf’ language when I don’t know any deaf people… I thought it a strange question – to me I’m just learning a second language for fun, and it may come in useful some day. I have previously studied French, despite not knowing any French people (at the time!). Students in primary school learn Indonesian or Japanese, regardless of whether they know Indonesian or Japanese people, or not.
So I’m trying to figure out why people see Auslan as just a language for deaf people. It is so much more than that. It’s a beautiful language, and a fun (though often hard, like any other) language to learn. It is used by many people, not just those who are deaf, including family members and the wider community of those with hearing loss. It is also being used more often by and with people who struggle to communicate or are non-verbal.
And maybe we just learn new languages to be able to communicate with, and understand, different cultures and people. Learning is never ‘wasted’ if you get something from it, enjoy it and create new memories. What more could you want in a hobby?
I encourage everyone to learn a second (or third, or fourth!) language. The impact it has on cognitive abilities and brain synapses and comprehension is well researched. Especially in those under four years old, it can literally change the way their brain forms, with incredible benefits. And if you’re looking for a new language to learn in the new year, why not try Auslan? I bet you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.