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How Do I Choose the Best Sign Language Courses?

By K. Testa
Updated May 17, 2024
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As with other types of language courses or academic courses in general, choosing the best sign language courses can depend on several factors. Your personal learning style is a possible determinant — some people use books, for instance, while others benefit more from videos or in-person training. You could also choose courses based on your specific goals, which could range from simply communicating more effectively with a hearing-impaired family member to obtaining sign language certification in order to get a job as an interpreter. You can take courses at a college or university, online, or with an individual instructor. Usually, the best sign language courses can prepare you for certification while allowing you to learn and practice at an appropriate pace.

Many colleges and universities offer sign language courses. You can often choose between non-credit options and courses for academic credit. Other local organizations, such as schools or programs for the deaf, might provide sign language training to the public as well. The parents of a deaf child, for example, could often benefit from such lessons. The program costs usually vary depending on the location and the type of class.

Other resources for sign language courses can include adult enrichment programs offered by a community or recreational center, or perhaps even at your public library. In some cases, the instructor or tutor is a hearing-impaired individual who can provide a unique perspective and interesting teaching method. Options for taking such courses can vary; for example, some people prefer large classes while others benefit more from individual lessons.

Online sign language courses have become popular and more accessible in recent years. Often, a program might either offer free lessons or charge a modest fee for online access to its resources. Someone with the time and motivation for self-study, for instance, could teach himself the basics of sign language online. The experience can be nearly as effective as working with someone in person, as the online programs frequently include video sign language lessons and other interactive components.

Certain occupations require sign language certification or a sign language degree. Someone seeking an interpreter position in the U.S. or Canada, for example, might be required to complete an approved interpreter preparation program and then take an exam in order to become a certified interpreter. There are various levels of certification, and some jobs do not require certification at all, so you should check the specific requirements and then plan your sign language courses accordingly.

Regardless of the format or location, the best sign language courses usually begin with the basics and gradually become more difficult. When learning foreign languages, it is not generally possible to absorb a great deal at one time, so it is wise to choose a program that allows you to learn at a suitable pace. The most effective courses will also encourage repetition and frequent practice in order to master sign language.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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