Teaching methodology for achieving a language certification from people with Specific Learning Disorders (SLD)

EFL teacher, students with disabilities, Second Language, SLD, mixed classrooms, IRENE, 3Dlexia, Montessori

Country Studied:Italy

Area of Focus: Language, Reading, Spelling/Writing, Assistive Technology, Multi sensory

Teaching methodology, developed by the Italian Dyslexia Association (AID), which envisages the use of inclusive teaching elements as a fundamental aspect, based on macro-principles. It does not start from grammar but from context, through the use of meaningful learning. Therefore, the emphasis is not on knowing the language, but on knowing how to make the language.

The practice intends to develop the user’s communicative competence by using a metacognitive approach for language learning.

For example, the “Present simple” is initially presented in its communicative function, or based on what you can do with it and when, through real-life situations, and real involvement and interest of learners.

The methodology analyses various learning styles, examines them through tests and adapts them to teaching by the principle of multimodality. In particular, the channels used are the non-verbal visual (therefore figurative) one, the auditive one and the kinesthetic one.

Considering the possible difficulty of elaboration that the adult with SLD can face, the segmentation of the information is adopted. So, the information is segmented, but without fragmenting it (for example, two grammatical forms are never presented together). In addition, the principle of redundancy (which is not repetition) is applied, for example by locating the same information in different contexts. People with Specific Learning Disorders have automation deficits, therefore the methodology does not adopt mechanical learning, based on memorization and repetition with no contextualization, but instead conveys the read-write automatism through compensatory tools.

The methodology makes an extensive use of speech synthesis tools in the language that is being taught, and spelling checkers (for example Grammarly), in addition to the specific applications of Microsoft 365. IT tools (computers, phones and tablets in particular) are therefore fundamental devices, and become an external memory for the student.

Consolidated techniques such as Suggestopedia and Total Physical Response are applied.

“Fluid books” are also used a lot, as they combine the digital component (speech synthesis, text editor, grammar videos) with the paper component.

The methodology foresees constant guidance for the learners, even during the lesson, and it uses road maps to help them. Furthermore, continuous monitoring of learners and self-monitoring by teachers is carried out.

Finally, particularly important is the “AID book”, a specific service that AID freely provides exclusively to its members (with SLD or disability certification). The resources in the AID book are all open digital formats for school books.

The teaching methodology can be applied in public and private educational institutions and organizations, with reference to all educational levels (including adult education).

There aren’t particular prerequisites for the institutions/organizations which would like to use this methodology.

There isn’t any course standard, therefore no specific length is suggested. Since it is a teaching methodology, it represents a transversal didactic approach to the whole program.

The best practice addresses all types of learners, even though it was created mainly to be used in educational institutions of all levels, including CPIAs (Italian public Adult Education Centers)

The Best Practice adopted by AID (Italian Dyslexia Association) is aimed at achieving a language certification for people with Specific Learning Disorders (SLD). The goal is to integrate different approaches and teaching tools into a teaching methodology, that takes into account the learning styles of people with SLD, and that can be adopted at different levels of education / types of training, and with different target groups.

The practice was developed to respond to new needs, arose after the introduction of law 170/2010. Such law requests that scholastic institutions may adopt a personalized educational methodology for SLD students, through effective and flexible working methods according to the particular needs of the learners. Furthermore, the law foresees the adoption of compensative tools, including alternative learning means and ICT.

AID currently is the main association in Italy on dyslexia and other learning disabilities, with more than 80 local branches all over the country, managed by volunteers, and a total of 18.000 members (parents of dyslexic children, adults with learning disabilities, psychologists, teachers).

By using this good practice, AID organizes language certification courses for students with SLDs, provided by the Trinity College of London, and held by teachers trained by AID itself.

The implementation of this teaching practice is supported by AID tutors and also by specific initiative for teachers’ training and certification od competences. AID also organizes free training sessions addressed to technicians of the field of SLD, as well as to SLD student’s parents, which include also language teaching among others.

  • Meaningful learning
  • Inclusive teaching
  • Communication competence
  • Learning styles
  • Multimodality
  • Multimedia
  • Adaptation of teaching methods

Language learning methodologies for adult people with SLD have to focus mainly on personalization and accessibility.

AID website – https://www.aiditalia.org/