Wednesday, December 8, 2010

ASL is #4 Most Studied Foreign Language at College, Close to Being #3

According to this USA Today article, a Modern Language Association survey reveals that American Sign Language is well on its way to becoming the 3rd most studied foreign language at colleges and universities. German has only 4,500 more students than ASL, and ASL studies have increased 16% from three years ago.

The 1st most studied language is Spanish, then French. But only 8.6% of students at colleges that offer foreign languages actually take the courses.

I remember ASL being a popular option when I was in college. It was popular in high school to say that you knew sign language, although most of the time that meant simply the signed alphabet. At my high school, only Spanish and French were offered as foreign language courses. I ended up having to take American Sign Language at the local community college, but it worked out well because it counted for both high school and college credit.

You can read the full report here.


  1. So many people I meet tell me how they wish they knew ASL or know someone who is studying it.
    I love that it is fastly becoming so popular with everyone!

  2. if it becoming too popular, maybe it should be one of the requirment, like music class.

  3. We have similar claims re BSL in the UK, however if all these people are learning sign language, then why are we not getting Interpretors,mentors, etc for deaf ? we have 1 terp for every 300 deaf people. There is a string viewpoint (UK-wise), students learn sign to add points to their coursework and once they gain their grades, take no further interest in sign or the deaf. I suggested colleges still allow students to learn sign BUT, not add the points to their other coursework,the colleges said, then few would bother to learn. I am unsure how educational establishments in the USA do the same thing regarding coursework. It was done here to encourage,but students soon saw the easy option of gaining extra marks. It isn't how much sign is learnt, it is how much is actually being applied. We learn languages in school too, but most drop them as they have a choice. British are rampant English lol we didn't spread our language worldwide, by speaking another.... It used to be, the Brits definition of bi-lingual was simply, when we meet foreigners, we simply shout louder at them and talk v e r y.... s l o w ly, but in English of course....

  4. I agree ASL is most popular course in schools . A student nurse who took a course on ASL then she got hired quicker than other nurse student who don't take a course because hospitals or clinics look for nurses who are able sign language to communicate to deaf and hard of hearing patients.
    One thing I don't agree, sign language is a foreign language. I look like foreign ? I am American. It should said studied language course.

  5. lavender16 - the word "foreign" in this case is being used to mean "unfamiliar or different," not "from another country."

    Note that the actual title of the paper refers to "Languages Other Than English." Most news reports are referring to it as "foreign" languages in the definition I mentioned above.

  6. It's 'foreign' to hearing people...

  7. I have always been "attracted" to sign language, but only recently decided I am going to learn. I have been using websites, but eventually will take classes, as I am in nursing school and think it will be of benefit in my profession.
    But, the real reason I want to learn is because I find the language itself to be so expressive, so beautiful, so human. I wish I knew others who knew it, for now I just have to settle for the many ASL websites and some of the better teachers sharing their skills on youtube.


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