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Is American Sign Language useful? Or should I go with something more common?

runallday4runallday4 597 replies116 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 713 Member
edited November 2012 in Pre-Med Topics
In middle school I arbitrarily chose to take French, which ended up being pretty useless. Now I'm trying to figure out what language I should take in college. Some that I was thinking about were:
-Spanish
-German
-Arabic
-Mandarin
-Cantonese

They all seem semi-useful, with spanish being the most common in the US, but then I heard about people studying ASL and thought that it sounded really interesting. As a doctor it seems like it could be useful, and also learning to hand gesture would be useful in communicating with non english speakers. Any input?
edited November 2012
7 replies
Post edited by runallday4 on
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Replies to: Is American Sign Language useful? Or should I go with something more common?

  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10063 replies200 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,263 Senior Member
    There's flaw in your logic.

    Signing in ASL won't help you communicate with non English speakers since many signs are arbitrarily symbolic and not literal. Also it's American Sign Language and is only used/taught in the US. (The deaf in other countries learn other non-mutally intelligible different signing systems.)

    Unless you plan to attend school or practice in an area which has a significant deaf population or you plan to go into ENT, your ASL won't get much use, if any.

    (Also fewer and fewer deaf individuals are learning ASL as the use of coclear implants and assistive devices gains wider use. The current emphasis is on oral communication.)

    If you want a useful second language--pick Spanish. It's the second most commonly spoken language in the US.
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  • pinklampinklam 57 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    Like WayOutWestMom said, ASL will not help you communicate with speakers of other languages. You don't mention where you are from, but if you ultimately end up practicing in an area with a large Deaf population (such as Rochester or DC), you would likely be able to get a large following from patients who use ASL. I assure you your knowledge will be appreciated, especially as many Deaf people struggle to be provided with appropriate access to communicatuon in the healthcare setting. Even with cochlear implants, there are plenty of ASL users.
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  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown 8236 replies73 discussionsForum Champion Brown Posts: 8,309 Forum Champion
    Spanish for sure. As was said, asl is only for English. That's why it's called American sign language
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10063 replies200 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,263 Senior Member
    asl is only for English

    Actually ASL is only for North America. The deaf in Great Britain and former British colonial territories use British Sign Language.

    D2 went to undergrad in Rochester, NY, which has a significant deaf population. Her school offers ASL as a language option, and two of her roomies took ASL minors.
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  • plumazulplumazul 1710 replies34 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,744 Senior Member
    asl is only for English. That's why it's called American sign language

    I don't think ASL has anything to do with English. It actually has French as a root and is a descendant of LSF(French Sign Language). Also, ASL is used in many parts of the world (North America, Southeast Asia, much of Africa, parts of South America)
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  • runallday4runallday4 597 replies116 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 713 Member
    I guess that makes a lot of sense. I'll probably just go with spanish.
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  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    The most useful is Spanish and it opens more opportunities at Med. School also, try to get to a speaking level.
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