Speaking Hands
Day 3

Sign Language Week


First day of class in a language course. You have little to zero previous knowledge and feel nervous. Then your teacher begins the first lesson and little by little the anxiety fades, as you start understanding this new system of words called foreign language. Besides, you feel relieved that you can always lean on your native language to ask questions to the teacher, who is very likely to speak your language. But what if your teacher can’t?

Last year I found myself in this very situation in the German Sign Language (deutsche Gebärdensprache) course I took at the “Münchner Volkshochschule”. My teacher was the first deaf person I ever had contact with and I was afraid of behaving improperly. In spite of my fear, the course ran smoothly and I learned how to communicate without speaking. My teacher did not only manage to teach us her language, but also made her culture visible.

I have been learning languages for the past 15 years and I know for a fact that languages and culture are intertwined. But from my experience I can tell you what makes Sign Language unique: unlike spoken languages, Sign Language guarantees the full attention from both parties when communicating. If you get distracted (look away or at your phone), you will miss a sign, movement or facial expression, which are the main components of the language.

In the following video you will gain some first insights from the German Sign Language and also the Deaf Culture. Seize this momentum to learn your first signs.

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL4du4tslS8&t=22s

LANGUAGE: German Sign Language (deutsche Gebärdensprache or DGS)

– Author: Juan