Special education needs are critical to identify and evaluate for each child as it implies developing a program that caters to the specific needs of the child with respect to learning. It has been found through research that some linguistic as well as cultural groups face statistically significant learning disability in comparison to other groups. This may create bias as the percentage of learning disability students in special education classes may belong to certain sub cultural or linguistic backgrounds. However, without a bias, learning disabilities towards English language need to be addressed, and mechanism must be established to ensure that students with special education needs are taught English language in a way that caters to their disabilities. Linguistic and cultural differences create a problem in learning English language, however, educators and programs need to be catered such that sensitivity towards different backgrounds needs to be maintained while the educational program is underway (Alfredo & Ortiz, 2002).
About four hundred languages exist in the United States escalating the problem of teaching English language to students and some states have also been marked on the scale of learning as “less than fluent in English Language”. In addition, political, economic and social conditions of each state indicate the extent to which English language is prevalent. Therefore, it is critical to evaluate and establish a program for English language teaching catering to special needs (Alfredo & Ortiz, 2002).
It is important for teachers and experts to identify learning disabilities and the need for special education amongst children. Only then, a specific educational program can be designed which caters to the needs of such children. One of the programs that cater to special education needs of children is Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This plan basically identifies each and every need of the child with respect to education, and how this can be catered to through various teaching techniques. For children from different cultures, the educational plan has to be responsive and sensitive towards this culture, as well as the learning disability. Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) has discussed an instructional plan for teaching English to students from multi-racial backgrounds and with learning disabilities. The plan discusses different elements of teaching based on historical teaching patterns and particular successes; preferences of the learner and cross cultural training for better learning.
The individualized education plan starts with understanding and learning the proficiency that the child has with respect to both the primary as well as the secondary English Language. Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) indicates that it is important for the child to have a strong proficiency in the native language as it can help the child n in understanding the nuances of the secondary language, as well. She indicates that the child should then be taught the secondary language of English when the child has a developed mind towards the primary language in his or her culture. Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) also emphasizes that in this learning program for children with special education needs, parents should be involved, as well. With the involvement of parents, a specialized instruction plan for the child can be developed, which can be beneficial for the learning disability that the child has.
The ideology behind individualized education plan is that it helps the teacher or instructor to plan out how the student should be taught and how they would be able to learn the language effectively. It helps the instructor to identify what exactly needs to be taught to the student and how it would be taught. This lesson planning is critical in targeting the specific needs of each student with respect to their learning disability. In order to help the child to learn a secondary language successfully such as English, it is important that equal importance is also given to the cultural differences and elements of the child, as well. This culturally sensitive learning environment and opportunity can help the child connect and learn the secondary language far more effectively. Another element that instructors need to keep in perspective is the language that the child uses in the community as well as the home. This would be an effective mode of instruction for the child as he or she is already communicating in this language and has an effective grasp of its nuances. This understanding can help the instructor to formulate and effective teaching plan devise instructional mechanisms for the child, particularly with respect to his or her learning disability.
Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) recommendes further that special instructional techniques need to be used to devise a program that the child can easily grasp and is able to learn the language through this program. These special techniques are clubbed under the term, Sheltered Content Instruction in which the child’ proficiency particularly towards the secondary language is monitored. Mechanism to teach secondary language is then formulated in accordance with this proficiency in mind.
The next element that Nancy recommends with respect to educating special needs students is a Family Service Plan. This plan essentially is to build a relationship of respect and understanding between the school and instructional medium with the home so that the child understands that both languages are equally important, the one being taught and the one being spoken at home amongst his or siblings and parents. The culture and language at home are given equal respect and understanding so that the child is able to connect to both the languages, at home as well as at the educational institution.
Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) therefore emphasizes that learning disability within the child particularly towards a language needs to be overcome through a well rounded approach. This approach in training and education should be such where the instructor and the instructional material should be planned in a manner where emphasis is placed on the cultural elements of the language being spoken at home but an openness is built within the child for the English language as well in order to teach him or her this language.
Garcia & Malkins (1993 pp. 52-58) believe that multiculturalism can play a definite role in helping a child with special needs to learn a secondary language. However, this teaching can only be done if training material and curriculum is designed in such a manner that reflects the cultural underpinnings that are part of the child’s mental makeup. The program designed by Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) focuses on this element where she indicates that cultural elements need to be part of the curriculum designed to teach the elements of a secondary language to a child with special learning needs. Cloud, Genessee & Hamayan (2000) indicate that when a child is learning a language that is immersed in his or her culture and teaches through the stories, characters and situations that are part of a culture that the child can understand; then comprehension skills are automatically enhanced.
Cloud, Genessee & Hamayan (2000) also point out the fact that each culture promotes different learning ideologies in which some of them include varying eye contact, group versus individual learning, volunteering in class while studying and guessing answers in class, as well. The Individualized Education Plan therefore, focuses on promoting and focusing on such cultural elements to develop an educational plan that meets the specialized nature of learning that the child requires. This nature of learning then includes incorporating such cultural elements that allow for building a comfort level for the child for effective learning (Cummins, 2000).
For effective learning, Weisner, Gallimore & Jordon (1988 pp. 327-351) believe that learners should be given choices from which they can choose their most effective learning setting. This way an instructor can discover the learning opportunities that a child seeks, for his or her special education needs.
In this regard, Robert, Ochoa & Ortiz (2005) believe that the instructor should raise several questions which may include how the child seeks interaction, the number of people he or she likes to talk to, the type of approval that the child seeks for learning, etc. In this way, instructors can determine the best possible learning solution for the child. Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) special learning needs education program caters to this effective learning process, as well. Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) program indicates that cultural elements should be experimented with, in order to determine the best possible combination of elements through which the child’s special learning needs can be met. In that case, the elements would be such that they focus on the cultural aspects of the child’s psychology. Along with that, they cover the requirements of learning for the child, as well (Weisner, Gallimore & Jordon, 1988 pp. 327-351).
Weisner, Gallimore & Jordon (1988 pp. 327-351) also indicate that teaching styles have to be varied in order for the child to learn effectively. They state that prior experiences of learning need to be kept in mind when a teaching plan is developed for the child. The child has special learning needs; therefore, it is critical that prior learning situations are utilized to develop an effective learning program. In this situation, Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) educational program caters to the child’s learning needs because it takes into account previous knowledge of the child’s experience.
Along with that, the educational program also takes into consideration, cultural elements that the child has experienced. In this manner, the child’s learning program caters to the differences that are part of his or her special needs; as it takes into account both culture and prior experiences (Rodriguez & Predaris, 2002).
The educational program has various strengths based on the theoretical underpinnings explained earlier in the document. This approach to educating the child about a secondary language, particularly English language has significant advantages. Foremost advantage that the program offers for the child is that it provides functional knowledge about language to the child. This will help the child in the future based on the environment in which the child lives and interacts. Another advantage that is offered through this educational program includes a detailed evaluation of the cultural elements of the child’s learning and grooming environment (Rodriguez & Predaris, 2002).
In that case, each element that relates to the culture of the child’s current environment and habitat is utilized in the learning program so that the child is comfortable in learning. This essentially means that the child will find it easier to grasp concepts and techniques which are grounded in the child’s own cultural elements. In that way, the child can easily capture the situational contexts for the language and thus find it easier to learn the language in this manner. Critically, Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) educational program recommends that the local and national curriculum should be utilized towards developing a learning plan for the child despite learning disabilities. In this context, the program should be superior and should cater to all the requirements that are outlined in the national curriculum. In this way, the child will have to work towards obtaining high standards to learn the language. However, Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) program makes it easier to help the child grasp the language’s concepts and context because the learning program is grounded in the culture and environment of the child. Moreover, it allows for developing a learning program that is based on the child’s own choices of learning. This helps the child to learn the language based on the curriculum and in a manner that is conducive to their mind, thus helping counter the special needs of learning that the child possesses (Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003 pp. 137-146).
Another major strength that this program offers includes repetitive learning through various cues and techniques. This is a key element that plays a major role in how the student with special learning needs is able to cover the requirements of learning a language effectively. Communication between the teacher and the student is layered and is also augmented so that the child is able to grasp the true constructs of the language easily and is able to remember through repetition of these constructs. In addition, the cultural elements then help the child to connect to the language skills and repetition to scenarios that pertain specifically to each child’s actual environment, allowing them to learn the language more effectively, despite special learning needs that they may have (Rodriguez & Predaris, 2002).
Despite the strong advantages that the Individualized Education Plan has to offer, there are a few weaknesses that need identification. The program has significant weaknesses with respect to group activities and group learning experiences despite a strong individualized learning specialization. Even though the program is primarily based on individual learning experiences for special learning needs, it is important that children particularly learn through team learning experiences. Group experience of language can help children to learn from each other and be able to gain language nuances that may be difficult in an individualized setting (Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003 pp. 137-146).
The entire education plan that Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) presents, does not have any indication on how various aids would be used to educate a child with special needs. The entire concept of the plan is to teach the child a secondary language through techniques that are conducive to the child’s mind with respect to the environment and the situation that the child lives in. However, the aids and tools that may be helpful for the purpose of teaching a language to a student with special learning needs, have not been specifically identified in this plan. Therefore, it becomes critical for an instructor to identify such tools that may be useful for educating the child for a secondary language. The main problem with the plan that Cloud (1990 pp. 106-131) proposes is that it has limitations with respect to how the child needs to be educated. Various elements related to the steps that a teacher should take have been outlined quite clearly so that a study plan can be formulated fairly easily. However, specifications on group and individual therapy, lessons for teaching various nuances of the language, conducting language sessions for specialized needs of the students, etc. are some areas that have not been highlighted in the plan. These elements are critical in developing a deep rooted educational plan for children with special needs and thus are areas that the instructors would need additional focus on, so that the plan developed is sound and student friendly (Weisner, Gallimore & Jordon, 1988 pp. 327-351).
There are various elements that need focus within this learning program. The first and foremost ideology that needs to be changed within the plan is group teaching patterns and techniques. The plan has nothing significant related to group educational programs, where theoretical constructs indicate that group therapy with respect to education can be extremely important in individual development of a child. With respect to special needs in learning, this group therapy can promote better and enhanced learning for the child, providing better opportunities for the child to interact and learn through other children (Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003 pp. 137-146).
Another element that is critical for the child with respect to learning is the usage of right tools, aids and techniques that will help add to the ways through which language can be taught to a child with special learning needs. In this context, it is important that the instructor identifies the right tools and aids such as visual and audio aids that might help the child in identifying and learning the nuances of a new, secondary language. Critical in this situation is that the instructor should be able to incorporate various elements of group lessons, aids to teaching and individualized lessons, and then base them on the national curriculum. This will help develop a well grounded plan to teach the students who have specific learning needs with respect to learning a new and secondary language. It is important to find out how the child will learn most effectively and such techniques should be incorporated in, so that the child has a deep rooted knowledge of the language and its nuances. This will be done through several techniques that are best suited for the child’s extremely specific learning needs (Alfredo & Ortiz, 2002).
The paper talked about a specific learning program called individualized learning program. This program deals with teaching a secondary language to children with specific learning needs, which is based on their own nuances of culture and environment. The purpose of this program is to propose a learning environment that is simple to grasp and is easy to adapt to so that the children can learn the language in an effective manner. However, there are various weaknesses of this program which need to be catered to. The primary problem with this plan is that it needs a group study and educational plan, as well. In this manner, children will be better able to learn from each other and will adapt to a learning culture that develops within the group. The nuances of the secondary language are critical and need to be taught properly. The only way that this would be possible is when the teacher immerses the language in to the cultural elements and biases of the students so that they can grasp the concepts of the language in a better manner. The program suggests that situation and culture of the student should be studied in detail. The program therefore should be designed that it caters to the environment from the child has come in from, so that his or her interaction becomes easier. This would help in being able to understand the language and connect to it in a manner that is consistent with how the child has grown up and learned his or her primary language. Moreover, it also indicated that special needs of the child should be identified then, and the program should be designed around these needs catering to the cultural elements, as well. This would be helpful in creating a fool proof program that brings about a change in the child with respect to learning a secondary language. With such cultural nuances, the child would easily be able to connect to it and learn the language in an effective and easy manner.
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