Most of us have typical New Year resolutions like going on a diet and exercising more or quit smoking. While these are certainly good, healthy goals we really should be doing them anyway and New Years resolutions are simply a delaying mechanism so that we can scarf down those delicious goodies over the holidays while we watch the bowl games. Well it’s 2009 now, so go ahead and start that diet and drag your chubby carcass to the gym. But why not do something really interesting this year? Like learn a new language. I got this idea from a Lifehacker article by Jason Fitzpatrick entitled How to: Learn Basic Sign Language.
If you’re interested in learning American Sign Language or want to brush up on some courses you took in college, there is an enormous amount of information available at LifePrint. Assembled by American Sign Language teacher and evangelist Dr. Bill Vicars, LifePrint has dozens of ways for you to hone your Sign Language skills. There are basic word guides, Sign Language dictionaries, information on deaf culture and a plethora of links to other ASL resources.
So why would you want to learn ASL? You mean aside from the fact that it is the fourth most commonly used language in the United States. How about this bit of information from a study cited on the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) site:
Users of ASL have shown ability to process visual mental images differently than hearing users of English. Though English speakers possess the skills needed to process visual imagery, ASL users demonstrate faster processing ability–suggesting that sign language enhances certain processing functions of the human brain.
Now that sounds way cool to me. Being able to communicate with more people and enhancing brain processing functions too! So start off the new year right – get healthy (you were going to do that anyway) and get smarter. See, 2009 is looking better already.
Here are some useful links for learning sign language (not just American Sign Language).