How American Sign Language is changing my life

If you want to learn another language, you should consider learning American Sign Language (ASL). Everyone should learn ASL; this language is changing my life and I’m about to tell you how. My first language is Spanish and my second language is English. When I was studying Psychology as an undergraduate student, I always wanted to learn another language, so I gave French a shot. I really enjoyed it! But I didn’t push myself enough and now I just know the basics and some specific words. Hopefully, I can take more classes in the future.

Then, when I was about to start graduate school to study Counseling Psychology, I learned about a sign language student association at UPRM; Asociación Universitaria de Lenguaje de Señas (AULS). I learned about them because they were about to offer a Medical Sign Language workshop. I immediately enrolled for the workshop and it was an amazing experience. I had the pleasure to meet a deaf student and she was truly excited to see so many hearing people interested in learning her language. Right there, at that moment, it started my love for this language.

Before taking the workshop, I downloaded some ASL apps; I didn’t want to start the workshop without knowing anything, so I started learning by myself. I learned the alphabet, numbers, colors, family signs, etc. The professor started the workshop teaching us the alphabet. So yeah, I didn’t need to know the basics beforehand. But I was so glad I did! The professor spent the entire day talking and making the signs at the same time. I was amazed!

When the workshop ended, I told the professor I was interested in more workshops like this one. Sandra Zapata, the professor, told me she was teaching basic, intermediate, advanced and advanced II ASL, as part of the short courses offered at the University. But guess what? The courses were offered at night, and I was about to start graduate school at night.

I had to wait almost three years to be able to start the ASL classes. But between those years and before that, I was able to see how Switched at Birth was changing the TV series game with deaf actors, to see Nyle DiMarco win America’s Next Top Model, to see more movies involving ASL or deaf actors… By the way, everyone should see A Quiet Place; it’s extraordinary.

Now, I’m about to finish the basic ASL course. I can’t wait to start the intermediate ASL course next semester! I’ve learned so much! And I’m not talking about signs merely; I’m also learning about the deaf culture, their struggles, and I’m having more opportunities to meet them. I mean, can you tell I’m loving all of this? I’m learning, I’m growing, and most importantly, I’m truly enjoying all if this. I have many plans involving the deaf community and I hope I can share them with all of you soon.

National ASL Day is celebrated on April 15. Let's learn a sign and post a photo or video using #NationalASLDay on social media!