Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Bilingual Advantage

The New York Times published an interesting Q&A today with cognitive neuroscientist, Ellen Bialystok, about the bilingual advantage. From the article: 

Among other benefits, the regular use of two languages appears to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

I always buy my hearing, parents-to-be friends ASL books for this reason. My first sign was at five months old, and I was singing and talking fluently in ASL and oral English at only eighteen months old! If you want your kids to learn a new language, I recommend ASL and, later, Spanish. Sadly, being so far away from Deaf friends and family, I don't have many opportunities to use ASL and, per Bialystok, "You won’t get the bilingual benefit from occasional use." Rats.

And, even when I use ASL these days I find myself signing English. It's only when I'm visiting Mom, Dad or other relatives & close family friends that I grew up with where I really sink back into ASL. My vocabulary returns to me quicker with them, too. I wonder, as a CODA, is it worth taking ASL classes? Have you or someone you know benefited from them?


Anonymous said...

As a CODA who fell out of the deaf community and is now completely back in, my skills came back very fast just by everyday conversation. It took some time but I would think myself to be very fluent now. I believe if you took an ASL 1 class, you would get bored quickly. Or maybe a more advanced class so you could avoid that? Also maybe finding some DVDs to watch to get more exposed. Best option to me would be finding some deafies to hang out with in your area. Just my suggestions, best of luck!

Kambri Crews said...

It's amazing how quickly it returns, isn't it? Thanks for the suggestions!

Keri said...

Yeah, I agree with the anonymous commenter above...the best way to brush up your ASL skills is to interact with members of the Deaf community. There are PLENTY of Deaf events happening in NYC on a weekly basis. However, as an ASL professor, I do get a few CODAs in my courses. They vary in signing skills but even the most advanced one benefited from taking ASL V and ASL VI with me (those levels focused on storytelling techniques). Even Deaf students benefited from taking ASL with me. See what's available in your community. There are also specific courses such as courses on using classifiers or even interpreting workshops that just focus on certain topics like classifiers, medical signs, etc. Check out the New York Metro RID chapter for workshops:

(check out the 'links' page...wealth of info)



Good luck! =)