How can foreign language courses be made more accessible to students with disabilities?

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In the United States, foreign language is often a requirement for college graduation. Many college students have disabilities that impact their ability to see, hear, or process language. As a result, these students may struggle with the oral, visual, and processing tasks of learning a foreign language. However, foreign language classes can be made accessible to students with disabilities through careful planning and implementation of innovative teaching methods, such as those included in the following resources:

Learning Disabilities and Foreign Language Learning

Foreign Languages and Students with Learning, Hearing, or Vision Disabilities

Strategies for Helping Students Learn a Foreign Language

Strategies recommended in these resources include the following:

  • Explicitly teach the sound system of the language.
  • Link grammatical structures to students' native languages.
  • Use auditory, visual, and kinesthetic methods of instruction and practice such as the Orton-Gillingham method.
  • Slow the pace of instruction and vocabulary acquisition.
  • Create noun and adjective ending charts to help students see language patterns.