Learning difficulties in adulthood and Foreign Language acquisition: European shared experiences to support and develop the IRENE innovative approach.

compendium, Learning difficulties, multisensory, Autism and Asperger association, sportroom, pecs, ABA, dyslexic, deal license

Country Studied: Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. This paper will mainly focus on the Dutch framework.

Area of Focus: This Comparative Desk Research presents the results of an analysis on the topic of foreign language learning and learning difficulties in adults.

A Comparative Desk Research of the Erasmus+ project “IRENE, on methodologies of teaching foreign languages in adults with Specific Learning Disorders (SLD). The focus has been on the needs of foreign language teachers and adults (18 to 35 years old) whose learning difficulties are a discourage factor in attempting to learn a new language.

A Comparative Desk Research has been implemented to increase the empowerment of adults and migrants with specific learning disorders which intends to support adults who experience learning difficulties and are therefore discouraged to learn a foreign language. SLD is a common definition of developmental disorders of skills needed at school regarding a specific reading disorder (dyslexia), a specific spelling disorder (dysgraphia), specific calculation difficulties (dyscalculia) or a mix of these disorders but the authors referred to all kind of learning difficulties encountered by adults learning a foreign language.

“IRENE” is a Key Action 2 ERASMUS+ Programme that initiated in September 2018 end will be completed by the end of August 2021.

Language teachers and adults, aged from 18 to 35 years whose learning difficulties are a discourage factor in attempting to learn a new language.

The overall assessment so far reflects some easy ways-tips to really engage students’ participation through:

  • A detailed syllabus with an outline of the course and the ways of assessment
  • Encouraging students to record lessons or take their own notes

Project Library | IRENE. (2021). Retrieved 10 March 2021, from http://irenelearning.eu/project-library/

The aim of the Best Practice is the production and development of:

  1.  A Comparative Desk Research of existing teaching methodologies and tools in the partner countries;
  2.  A didactic approach and guidelines for teachers and trainers and
  3.  An E-learning platform for foreign language learning.

The main objectives of the Best Practice are:

  • A curriculum defining which contents (materials, exercises, storyboard) should be included in the four different modules of the E-learning platform.
  • An interactive, VR and engaging E-learning platform
  • A short-term staff training event in Denmark to train teachers how to exploit the resources of the E-learning platform and its applicability to motivate adults with learning difficulties to learn in a different way

Focusing on the Dutch framework of the good practice, the general overview of the project consists of (1) Legal framework on learning difficulties/disorders in adult education, (2) National and regional programs and initiatives, (3) Methods for diagnosing and measuring of learning difficulties, (4) The involvement of organizations related to the education of SLD adults and (5) Policy on teaching of SLD adults in Foreign Language Learning.

Many adult educators use programs and ICT methodologies, available on Lexima website – Dyslexia software which supports employees in reading and writing texts in different languages:

  1. Build! – A computer-based intervention program which reduces problems with reading backlogs, low literacy and dyslexia.
  2. Flash: Tutor Reading, is an independent method and computer-controlled Flash program that effectively automates the reading process at word level.
  3. Kurzweil: It removes obstacles in reading, writing and understanding texts and allows learners to work faster and perform at their own level.

The consortium of the project has recently developed and shared the Curriculum Design (A1-A2 level), as part of the Intellectual Output 2 that consists of learning contents and guidelines for Intellectual Output 3, which is the educational platform of the project.

BrowseAloud Plus reads websites aloud. Thanks to BrowseAloud Plus, hundreds of thousands of people who have difficulty reading can listen to websites. This useful reading tool offers visual and auditory support to dyslexics, visually impaired, low-literate and non-native speakers. It can also be used when listening to the information rather than reading it.