Home 9 Guide to Language 9 Australian Sign Language: Importance, Benefits, & Why You Should Learn It
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Mar 21, 2024 | Guide to Language

Australian Sign Language: Importance, Benefits, & Why You Should Learn It

Auslan, or Australian Sign Language, is crafted for the Australian deaf community. The deaf community in Australia developed sign language to communicate with each other.

In this blog, we will learn more about this language, how to ace the language course, understand the alphabet, and much more.

What Sign Language Is Used In Australia?

The sign language used in Australia is called Auslan, which stands for Australian Sign Language. Auslan is a visual-gestural language with its grammar and vocabulary used by the Australian Deaf community. It is a complete language distinct from English, involving signs made with the hands, movements of the face and body, and specific ways of organising characters to convey meaning.

Auslan-Australian Sign Language- was coined by Trevor Johnston. Auslan has evolved naturally over time, predating its late 20th-century naming. Unlike spoken languages, Auslan relies on hand shapes, facial expressions, and body movements to convey meaning. Each deaf community has its unique sign language, indicating no universal version. Australian Sign Language is a complex, nuanced language, not merely a visual representation of English, offering a wealthy mode of expression for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The Evolution of Auslan- Australian Sign Language

he Evolution of Auslan - Australian Sign Language

It was the 19th century that witnessed British, Scottish, and Irish deaf people migrate to Australia. They also brought their sign language with them. Over time, it started the collective evolution of Auslan-Australian Sign Language- with unique characteristics.

Like many other sign languages, Auslan continues to evolve and meet every requirement to enhance communication among deaf people.

Similar to people who can speak and hear different languages around the globe. Deaf people worldwide also use various sign languages:

  • American Sign Language (ASL).
  • British Sign Language (BSL).
  • French Sign Language.
  • Chinese Sign Language.
  • New Zealand Sign Language,

The list includes many more sign languages.

Sign languages impact culture, spoken languages, and traditions. It is similar to how these aspects influence conventional languages.

Parellally, some International Signs (IS) for deaf people developed to communicate effectively, especially on international forms and platforms. However, the historical influence of Auslan made it similar to ASL or BSL.    

Elements of Sign Language

Elements of Sign Language

Auslan signs comprise methods to convey meaning. Elements combine to develop signs on which a particular language stands. Elements of sign languages are;

  • Hand Shapes: Australian Sign Language currently uses 38 hand shapes, including 28 variants for different signs, making a total of 66 hand shapes collectively.  
  • Orientation: We orient signs using the four major body sides, where you can use the hand and palm facing different directions. 
  • Location: Signs can be in different locations correlated to the body.
  • Movement: It includes head, hand, or arm movement. Movements can be dramatic or small, depending upon the sign. 
  • Expression: This is an important aspect similar to intonation while speaking. It might include head and facial movements and also facial expressions. Sign languages can use standard gestures. For example, the head movement sideways for no or raising the eyebrows for a question. Sign language uses these gestures to convey emotions.
  • Finger-Spelling: Australian Sign Language uses a finger-spelling system with two hands. We could spell the words using our fingers if there are a few established signs. That is the two-handed alphabet.  

The sign language of every country uses almost all these elements to improve communication.

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The Structure of Auslan

The Structure of Auslan

ASL Australia follows its specific grammatical structure. You can experience this structure visually rather than by hearing.

You can understand the difference by the example below:

I saw a handsome black dog this morning – it is an English sentence construction.

Black Dog Handsome this morning, I saw Or The black dog I saw this morning was handsome – It is an example of Australian sign language words and example.

In the meantime, hire the best translation services in Australia. 

Is Australian Sign Language Auslan Similar to ASL?

Is Australian Sign Language Auslan Similar to ASL?

Australian Sign Language dictionary is a mix of British and Irish sign language. That means it differs slightly from the American Sign Language-ASL.

The significant difference is that the Australian sign language, Auslan, uses a two-handed alphabet. American Sign Language ASL uses only a one-handed alphabet.

All languages for the deaf community have developed in recent years, and Auslan has borrowed signs from ASL. It involves new technologies like the internet, email, and other terms.

However, Auslan-Australian Sign Language is related to the BSL-British Sign Language. However, the two have a difference in grammar and vocabulary. Auslan is much more different from BSL, from Australian English to its British counterpart.

Australian sign language differs from other sign languages because Aboriginal Sign languages, such as Warlpiri, influence it. The name suggests that the central region of Australia uses it.

There is also a difference between the northern and southern regions of Auslan. The difference is regarding numbers and colours in particular. However, both of them follow a similar structure largely.    

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Auslan?

How Long Does it Take to Learn Auslan?

It takes about two years to become fluent in Auslan. It takes about three to six years to reach professional competence. However, a lot will depend on how much you are prepared to immerse yourself in the language—your skills are also significant, such as the natural ability or aptitude for learning a new language.

As sign language in Australia for deaf students is on the rise, it is a perfect time to learn Auslan more than the present. If you would like to start, plenty of places offer free courses for beginners. Then, you can join further if you are looking for accreditation.

If you are looking for a career as an Auslan interpreter, you need more dedication, which will take more time. Qualified interpreters help the deaf access any amount of information. Also, go through the exciting blog about how many languages are spoken in Australia

How to Learn Australian Sign Language?

How to Learn Australian Sign Language?

You can start with an introductory course and join specialised courses like

  • Auslan 101 Beginner Course.
  • Auslan Beginner 102 Courses.
  • Auslan Extension 103 Courses.
  • Deaf Awareness Training.
  • Tailored Auslan Courses.

You will get an Auslan course book and immerse in a Deaf learning environment. Courses are available across Melbourne and almost every major city in the country. These courses are perfect for service professionals, such as medical staff, police, and emergency and welfare workers who wish to add to their skills.

Explore everything about the emotive language

Benefits of Learning Auslan in the Classroom

It is crucial to consider Auslan when widening access for deaf children and people. Teaching Auslan has countless benefits in Australia.

  • It builds generations of children who can sign. It makes the world more inclusive for the Deaf community.
  • Auslan enables children to communicate with deaf or hard-of-hearing relatives.
  • It provides speech to children who are shy, mute, and struggle to share with friends and family.
  • It helps children to understand English or other languages further.

Conclusion

The deaf community of British, Irish, and Scottish people developed Australian Sign Language who migrated to Australia in the 19th century. It has distinguished features like many spoken languages and is related to BSL. Auslan has significant elements similar to other sign languages. Teaching and learning Auslan has many benefits. Various courses benefit deaf children and make them an active part of society. 

David Lee

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