Break Language Barriers

It is no secret that there is no better way to learn a language than by using it. 

Of course, one of the most effective ways to do this is by having real-time conversations with others in your target language.

I ended up learning this lesson the hard way.

For example, like many other students, I decided to take 2 years of Spanish in high school.

While I did gain some understanding of grammatical rules, learned a handful of phrases, and expanded my vocabulary, I never truly acquired the ability to hold conversations in Spanish through those classes alone.

However, in 2007, I had the opportunity to spend a month living in Paraguay. While immersed in the language and culture, I found myself rapidly gaining fluency. 

With daily exposure to the language and being in the position where I needed to use what I learned on a regular basis (ie. shopping, socializing, navigating), I ended up acquiring more fluency in 30 days than I had in the two years of classroom learning.

Shortly thereafter, when my wife and I started learning ASL, we took these lessons to heart and decided to immerse ourselves in the language and culture right from the start.

So, we started attending Deaf events on a weekly basis, watched ASL videos everyday, and forced ourselves to use what we learned with others, even if that meant getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

This approach worked really well for us and before we knew it, we were having conversations with ease. In fact, it worked so well that it even changed the trajectory of our careers.

For over a decade now, we both have been serving the Deaf community as sign language interpreters and have been loving every moment of it.

If you have been finding it difficult to gain fluency in ASL (or any other language for that matter) remember that language acquisition is accelerated through exposure and experience.

When we engage in conversations, make mistakes, and learn from native speakers, it primes us for faster and more effective learning.

It’s not just about memorizing grammar rules and vocabulary lists; it’s about experiencing the language in its natural context.

3 Ways to Break the Language Barrier

1. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone: Stepping outside of your comfort zone is where growth happens. Embrace the opportunity to interact with fellow learners and native speakers and signers. Don’t let fear hold you back 😏

2. Embrace Mistakes as Teachers: Making mistakes is an inevitable part of the learning process, and languages are no exception. Instead of fearing mistakes, embrace them as valuable learning experiences. Each mistake brings you one step closer to fluency… plus they make great stories for later 😆

3. Approach Learning with an Adventurous Spirit: Approach every conversation with a sense of adventure and joy. Embrace the opportunity to immerse yourself in the language, culture, and community. Every interaction is a chance to learn something new and connect with others 🤜🤛

With these things in mind, if you are looking to improve your ASL conversational skills, you are welcome to join our weekly ASL group practice sessions that are held every Wednesday at 5:00 PM Pacific (8:00 PM Eastern) on Zoom.

If you’re interested, we provide the Zoom link via our newsletter at no cost to you here.

Anyways, that’s it for today. Until next time, take care of yourself and have a great day!

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