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How hard is it to learn American Sign Language?

What is the difficulty level ASL to learn?


Those of you who are ASL evangelists:  I encourage you to consider this topic from a dispassionate* frame of mind.

[*dispassionate means: not influenced by strong emotion, and so able to be rational and impartial. (Source: Oxford Languages) ]


There is a claim floating around in instructional circles that is sometimes purported (put forth and misrepresented) as a fact.

The claim:

"ASL is rated higher than Spanish in the level of difficulty."

A second claim:

"ASL is rated 4 / 5. Up there with Japanese, Korean, Arabic."

In an online discussion group, a question was asked: "Where can we check this info?"

A response was that the information had been read a site "similar to" the Foreign Language Institute.

A few points to consider:

"A site similar to" -- doesn't actually count as a citation or credible reference.

The question as to where the information can be verified remains functionally unanswered (so far in this group).

A reference was made to an organization named the "Foreign Language Institute" yet the website link leads to a section of the website for the "Foreign Service Institute." 

The question remains:

Is there a credible source based on rigorous, peer-reviewed research that indicates American Sign Language is a Level 4 difficulty language to learn for native English speakers?


In online discussion groups outlandish statements have been made to the effect of:

"ASL has as much to do with English as it has to do with Japanese."

Such statements are preposterous. Language overlap is real. Each language overlaps more with some languages than others. Ask yourself, currently, today with which two languages does ASL most overlap?

Ask yourself if you know what the word "overlap" means in relation to language use. Can you give examples of it? Do you have a mental bias against admitting certain types of language overlap that may affect your judgment in this area?

Again, the above discussion is not aimed at any individual -- it is for all of us to reflect on.


Previously mentioned website:
The above webpage doesn't seem to mention ASL or "sign language"




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