" I'm the French speaking nanny of a little girl who has an English speaking mum and a German speaking dad. One might think that adding sign language on top of the three languages Edie is already exposed to would be too much, but on the contrary:..."

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Why is it important to use standard rather than made up/simplified signs?

Although there is some debate as to whether it’s better to use a standard system such as ASL, or simplified made-up signs, we feel that there are some key advantages to using a standard system.

Standard ASL signs:

  • offer consistency - someone without signing experience would probably only develop a very limited vocabulary with made-up signs and the risk of inconsistency is high.
  • are easy to learn - ASL has a logical structure (hand shape, signing area, hand movement and position of the palm) and a lot of signs are iconic, both of which help with learning vocabulary.
  • are widely understood - made-up signs will only be understood by those people who are in close contact with the child and might even remain restricted to the person inventing the signs and the child.

Last but not least, research and experience has shown that very young children can learn to sign correctly, beginning with approximations that will then be fine-tuned. Therefore, there is no reason to teach simplified signs.

Tristan signing 'book' Tristan signing 'read' Tristan signing 'good'