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).