5 Tips For LDs Learners of English


5 Tips For LDs Learners of English
5 Tips For LDs Learners of English

A Challenge for Teresa

Teresa has been a Junior High School teacher for more than a decade. While she knows the ropes around the job, the challenges she encounters daily never seem to get easy.


Teresa heads a pull-out group for kids with special needs. Every afternoon, she would convene her three students, one of which lives with a Learning Disability


While Teresa is backed by her years of experience with handling special cases, she still finds it challenging when dealing with kids with Learning Disabilities. She has handled children with Retardation, Autism, Asperger's, and the like. But Learning Disabilities always seem to catch her off guard. 


It becomes especially dreadful to her when she is tasked to teach the kids English. Although Teresa teaches at an international school where instruction is purely in the English language, she is not necessarily well-versed in all its nuances and technicalities. As with any responsible educator, Teresa approached the High School Principal and the English Coordinator about how her program could be fortified to help perish her apprehensions.


To understand Teresa, we will have to understand what Learning Disability is.

Learning Disability: What It Is and Why It Needs to be Understood

The American Department of Health defines Learning Disability as a notable decrease in an individual's ability to grasp new or sophisticated information or concepts. Individuals living with this condition are also challenged in acquiring new skills and have a diminished capacity to look out for themselves.


The department furthers that Learning Disabilities come in varying degrees and expressions. Some living with the condition are reported to be impaired in communication, financial management, reading, and writing, along with a host of others. Generally speaking, learning life skills for kids is wholly compromised.


Studies show that some are born with Learning Disabilities, while others develop the condition through accidents or childhood diseases. 


Its classifications vary. There are mild cases that allow the individual to be self-dependent. Some cases are too severe that the individual would need round-the-clock guidance.


One known term for Learning Disability is Global Developmental Delay or, simply, GDD. GDD is specific in that it develops between the child's birth and the age of 18. What this means for the person is that he or she would not be able to reach the crucial stages of learning that pertain to communication, analyzing information, memory, and thought processes.


There are different possible causes as to why Learning Disabilities arise in certain persons. Some are inherited conditions that have impacted brain development. Premature birth, a mother's illness during pregnancy or indulgence in vices, Down Syndrome, a weak X chromosome, an injury during childhood, and a myriad of other causes that may have been debilitating to the child's early intellectual development may also factor in.


Learning Disabilities are a range of conditions that include:


  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD)

  • Dyslexia

  • Dysgraphia


It should be noted, however, that having any of these does not mean that the individual has low intelligence. 

Tips for an English Teacher Faced With Students With Learning Disabilities 

It is clear from its definition that Learning Disability is a complicated condition. This becomes concerning for parents who want to have their child embattled with it learn the English language. In general, the study of language is a field better learned at a very young age. A challenging affair indeed, given that the disorder happens during a child's crucial developmental stages.


So what does a teacher like Teresa do to serve the cause?


Here are some tips for the equally-beleaguered educator.


1. Tailor-fit your expectations to what is achievable to the student


English teachers handling students with LD need to concentrate on the linguistic skills that they may be excelling in. For instance, if the child is living with ADHD, the teacher may need to look into shorter activities. 


This way, the teacher would be able to scaffold the activity with greater focus. If the linguistic activity requires longer instruction in light of theory and application, the teacher should learn to break it into smaller sessions. 


After every session, it would do the student well if the teacher would give commendations on good output. This serves to boost the student's morale and foster a positive attitude toward the lessons.


2.  Clearly state your session goals and organize your activities accordingly


The English teacher should declare the goals of a session at the very beginning. He or she should also give the students an idea of what to expect within the duration of the class. Having a well-planned and laid-out structure early on helps the students how to prepare. This also establishes a certain regularity in the sessions that the student would be able to adapt throughout the succeeding classes. 


This is something of great importance with language learning as the teacher would need to wire the kids' brains into learning through practice and repetition. This will become easier when they are given space to know what they should be expecting earlier on.


3.  Delineate ground rules in prescriptive language

Kids who are challenged with ADD and ADHD are more vulnerable to distractions and are therefore open to more issues with behavior. As such, laying down classroom rules is recommendable. 


However, the kids need to hear these rules in prescriptive language rather than in a proscriptive one. What this means is that the rules need to be a set of "dos," not "don'ts." It would also be wise for the English teacher to commend good behavior. This sets an example for the other students while not being imposing.


4.  Get rid of distractions

Distractions or elements not vital to the class are enemies to kids with ADD and ADHD. The point could not be stressed any further as the class delves heavily into language. 


The teacher should be able to put away anything that might cause the kids' attention to wander and diminish any distracting background noise.


5.  Involve all the students' senses

Involving all the students' senses in the lessons will allow them to retain their learning better. Kids who may be challenged with traditional linguistic measures may opt to choose different methods. They may be encouraged to involve their kinaesthetic faculties or audio-visual ones.

Teachers Should Be Equipped

Teachers, regardless of specialization, need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills on how to teach kids with LD. IN this day and age where educational resources are abundant and easily accessible, educators are assured that they will be equipped when their profession calls for it. But at the end of the day, what breaks the deal is the teacher's willingness to step out of his or her comfort zone and true dedication to educating the disabled.


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