Can Technology Facilitate MSL for LD Language Students?

Student carrying red backpack and walking toward big city skyline.Learning a foreign language can be especially challenging for students who have difficulty reading, writing, listening, or speaking their native language. These difficulties can stem from a range of disabilities, from autism to dysgraphia, and present students with an extra set of challenges in their pursuit of foreign-language mastery—in a traditional classroom, that is.

Creative Approaches
One key to improved outcomes is systematic multisensory structured language (MSL). If instructors teach language systematically by utilizing visual, aural, tactile, and kinetic activities to reinforce content, LD students can thrive. Color-coding to help with memorizing gendered words and pairing movements with vocabulary are just a few of the many creative approaches instructors can take. But these types of activities require time—time that instructors stretched thin due to budget cuts may not have.

The Roadblock
It’s no secret that colleges and universities are under pressure to do more with less. For each student in the United States, all states—except North Dakota—are spending less on higher education, and over half of states have cut funding by more than 25 percent. With these shrinking budgets, how can institutions continue to step up their support of high-risk students, such as students with learning disabilities?

Breaking Through
Instead of placing more and more pressure on language instructors, technology can help do some of the heavy lifting, allowing instructors more meaningful and creative time with students, as in the flipped classroom model. And this use of technology, which allows for self-pacing, repetition, and adaptive learning, fits into the Universal Instructional Design (UDL) approach, which “uses technology’s power and flexibility to make education more inclusive and effective for all” by providing multiple means of representation, action/expression, and engagement. Yes. It works for everyone. And it’s cost effective. Perhaps we don’t all need to move to North Dakota to afford a program that enables LD language learners.

Simply put, adding technology to your language courses can multiply options exponentially, empowering all students to succeed in a world where foreign language ability is so important.

What challenges have you faced in structuring a class that benefits both traditional and LD language learners? Tell us, and share this article with colleagues working with LD students.

Or . . . Come tell us in person! Attend our session on using technology to promote student success in required foreign language courses at the Council for Opportunity in Education’s 33rd Annual Conference in Washington, DC:

Session Title:
Implementing Technology in Your Foreign Language Requirement to Promote Student Success

Presenter:
Jean Miller-Aikens, Senior Manager, Business Development at Rosetta Stone

Description:
Initiating a mandatory foreign language offering can be challenging. Come discover how one community college uses Rosetta Stone® solutions to fulfill their foreign language requirement. We’ll also discuss how you can implement a cost-effective, technology-based curriculum to fulfill your foreign language requirement and promote student success.

Date:
Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Time:
2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Room:
Washington 3

We’ll also be in booth #107 and would love to meet you and hear about your challenges and successes in this area.

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