Children First: Learning a new language helps kids understand di - KOTA Territory News

Children First: Learning a new language helps kids understand differences


Growing up can be tough for kids especially when they're considered "different" by their peers.  And by different, that means someone who doesn't look or talk like them.

But learning a new language can help teach children about diversity and acceptance.

"It is really fun and it's actually the third most used language in the country after English and Spanish," says Heather Porter.

Learning that language has proved invaluable now that Porter is older.

She and her husband adopted Kiana, who has Cerebral Palsy and cannot communicate verbally.

So, Porter taught Kiana Sign Language.

"We got a glimpse inside her head. Before we just kind of had to guess what she was excited about or what she wanted. It was kind of like a gestures guessing game and now there's none of that guessing, it's just very clear," adds Porter.

Now Porter says she wants to clear the path to acceptance by teaching a Sign Language class for kids at the Rapid City Public Library.

"I think it helps take down those barriers, not only between deaf people but in accepting all people and all differences because once they understand one difference then they're more open to understanding and reaching out to people who have other differences," says Porter.

Such as the differences between the hearing and the deaf communities.

"It's a whole different group of people they may not know anything about. It creates a connection between two different cultures, two different groups of people and it's a whole other language for them to explore," says Susan Braunstein, Programming Library Associate.

A new language to explore and to embrace.

"I hope people get interested in it and I'd love to teach more classes," says Porter.

The library holds classes such as this one, on days when there is no school.

With this class, Porter hopes kids will get a glimpse of what sign language is all about and want to learn more.

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