“Learning disabilities (LDs) refer to a specific number of disorders that may affect the acquisition, organization, retention, comprehension, or the use of both verbal and nonverbal information”, being important for their definition to identify exclusions, because “individuals with LDs have only specific issues with learning, but they preserve an average or above-average intelligence quotient”. It is also worth mentioning that LDs cannot be attributed to emotional disturbance, cultural difference, or disadvantage, meaning that a child’s or adult’s poor academic achievement should not be confused with his/her expected intellectual potential .
When evaluating children, adolescents or adults we must consider that the commonly recognized specific learning disabilities include:
- Reading disability (dyslexia) – the commonest among the LDs (at least 80% occurrence) and demonstrates as deficits in phonologic processing. Appropriate phonologic processing involves reading decoding, phonics, ability to produce sounds, and proper auditory capabilities.
- Dyscalculia – a weakness in performing arithmetic operations. People with dyscalculia will not be able to organize problems, complete multiple-step calculations, distinguish mathematical calculation signs.
- Dysgraphia – is characterized by distorted writing despite thorough instruction and motor ability. People suffering from it produce inconsistent and illegible handwriting and seldom stay within the margins, or might also demonstrate maladroit fine motor coordination, problems with spelling (encoding), grammar and syntax, or expressing ideas in writing.
- Nonverbal LDs – include impediments with nonverbal activities, such as problem-solving, visual-spatial tasks, reading body language, and recognizing social prompts. They might manifest until after the third grade as difficulties or impediments of higher-order reading comprehension. It should be noted that they are not recognized as per the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
To assist people with LDs in management of their personal, social, educational and professional life, usually takes a coordinated and ongoing collaboration of an interprofessional team, primarily of language educators- since language impediments are key features of LDs, educational remediation specialists, psychologists, special services etc. Our project has targeted to improve the skills of FL educators, FL educational institutions & adult education institutions which provide foreign language courses, in order to enhance the way they teach people with learning disabilities, by using innovative methods and practices. More specifically, there will be an online training program and a self-assessment tool and a digital compendium to support, upskill, reskill and reinforce the capacities of teachers of foreign languages. Stay tuned and be ready for more news soon!