Country Studied: Slovenia
Area of Focus: Language, Reading, Spelling/ Writing, Assistive Technology, Multi sensory
The importance of learning English for students with special needs lies primarily in its usefulness in further education, in the limited expansion of their communication skills mainly in private life and therefore in this context, in greater integration into the environment. The development of communication skills takes place in connection with the cultural frame of their mother tongue. In addition, students become acquainted with otherness and through this realization they strengthen their ethnic integrity.
At our school, as an example of good practice, we see learning with the help of interactive whiteboards, with the help of a computer or other audio – visual means. Namely, students acquire knowledge through various methods. by this we mean solving various fun interactive tasks, crossword puzzles, playing bingo with English words or numbers, finding English rhymes, and many other board games, …In most cases, the visual-auditory approach suits students the best. This means that they learn new English words through pictorial material. There is more auditory comprehension, as some have great difficulty pronouncing English words. Many new words and phrases are learned through songs and counting. Thus, the music is almost daily companion to English lessons for students with special needs. The emphasis is on oral communication, as students already have many problems with written expression in their mother tongue. Students also have a textbook and a workbook for the course.
As part of the I. D. E. A. Erasmus + project, some of our students attended a meeting with other students from Poland, Croatia and Turkey. Thus, they also had the opportunity to communicate in English. They realized how important English is in communicating beyond our borders. The students who participated in the project returned more confident. They used English much more bravely and they became much more motivated to learn a foreign language.
Pupils up to the 5th grade can also meet English in an interesting activity, where they learn English in a fun way through dance, games and music. They are thrilled and the interest to join the learning circle is growing from year to year.
We described an example of good practice in working with students with special needs at the primary school of dr. Ljudevita Pivka Ptuj, which is celebrating 70 years of its operation this year. The school is attended by students with special needs. The school runs a special program and a program with a lower educational standard.
According to the curriculum, students encounter foreign language teaching in seventh, eighth and ninth grade. They have two hours of foreign language on their schedule weekly and they are 12 to 15 years old.
Students who are geared toward a customized educational program with a lower educational standard they begin to learn English in 7th grade and continue in 8th and 9th grade. Students in this program are students with special needs. Therefore, working with them is tailored and requires special attention. They need a lot of adaptation and, above all, an individual approach. Each student has different needs and abilities. Many of them have difficulties in speaking and expressing themselves in their mother tongue, so learning a foreign language is even more challenging. However, they have a lot of motivation to learn English because of cartoons and games in English. Some of our students speak English very well and these students have an affinity to learn English.
In Slovenia learning English in an adapted educational program with a lower educational standard is part of the compulsory primary school program. Classes must be clearly adapted to the level of student development, their interests and abilities. Due to the great interest for learning English, we also introduced an interest activity for learning English, in which every student who wants to learn English, can involve.
Ministry of Education, Sports and Science. (2003). The curriculum for the adjusted educational program with a lower educational standard for English. Acquired,
When learning English, students:
- get to know the ways of communication and language as one of the means of communication,
- recognize that English is a means of international communication,
- expand their communication skills,
- get to know the cultural characteristics of a foreign country,
- strengthening their curiosity, desire and need for new knowledge,
- develop a sense of language, a positive attitude towards the subject and have a joy of learning English,
- are preparing to learn English in further education,
- formulate personal goals of learning, getting to know and valuing their achievements and strive for improvement…
Satisfaction and knowledge of students at the end of schooling in the 9th grade, every year proves us that learning English by students in the lower educational standard is an example of good practice. They encounter English in high school also, where they come with good knowledge and a positive attitude towards the subject.
During class we also use mother tongue. However, to a greater extent, English is used in teaching, as we learn in a foreign language and not about it. Students understand more easily if we clearly show or draw everything while speaking, we use lively facial expressions, gestures, and sometimes pantomime.
- The learning principle of individualization – adapted to the individual
- The learning principle of systematicity – the material must be clear, understandably and transparent
- The learning principle of gradualness – from easy to difficult, from known to unknown
- they expand their communication skills beyond the linguistic boundaries of the mother tongue,
- getting to know the culture of a foreign country,
- learn about and develop an independent learning strategy.