Friday, November 20, 2015

At-Risk Students and the Study of Foreign Language in School

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What might the foreign language teacher do to assist students with mild to moderate foreign language learning difficulties?

A systematic multisensory structured language (MSL) approach that benefits students who struggle to learn to read and spell in their native language also benefits students who have difficulties learning a foreign language. The following recommendations are based on the key principles of the multisensory approach:
  • Provide opportunities for students to practice and review a concept frequently (repetitive principle).
  • Teach language concepts in a logical progression and help students to categorize concepts; also organize these language concepts from simple to complex (structured, sequential principles).
  • Build on what students already know, and make the connection between the known and the new information explicit (cumulative principle).
  • Systematically and explicitly teach the phonemes or speech sounds of the foreign language.
  • Directly teach students the sounds of the letters in the foreign language and the letter(s) the sounds represent (alphabetic/phonetic principle).
  • Show students how to think about a language concept to be learned and ask them to explain the concept in their own words; examples include rules for applying word endings, appropriate word order, and subject/verb agreement (metacognitive principle)  Model for students the way to break apart words while reading, especially words with more than one syllable (analysis principle).
  • Model for students the way to put parts of words back together for spelling (synthetic principle).

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