Languagelearning differences can interfere with learning skills such as math,writing, and reading. Furthermore, they also may interfere withadvanced level skills like abstract reasoning, time planning,organization, attention, and long or short-term memory. Thedifferences can affect an individual’s sphere of life other thaneducation like influencing relationships with workmates, friends, andfamily. Excellence in other academic areas does not mean you willhave a full command of a secondary language like English if it wasnot your mother tongue. It becomes hard more so for migrants to learna foreign language. The problem is evident in a student’sdifficulty in grasping and retaining the concept of conjugation, verbtense, and the syntactical difference between mother tongue and thelanguage being taught in the classroom.
Inmy case, I was exempted from taking a foreign language in high schoolbecause of my learning difference. I struggled to learn it, both inspeaking and writing. I could understand during class and get it, butcould not recall and apply the knowledge in an assessment orreproductive situation. Furthermore, recalling particular vocabularyhad always been a hurdle for me. A low intermediate was a betterdescription of me for learning a foreign language was hugelyfrustrating. I recall during my first year, I scored C grades in allforeign languages, which had a devastating consequence on my GPA. Iused to spend much of my time trying to learn these languages, andended up spending less time on studying other subjects. I somehowhave a belief that something can be done to enhance foreign languageacquirement and retainment.
Criticalthinking skills can be utilized to enhance an individual’s abilityto think and make the right decisions independently. Teachers offoreign languages are tasked with sharpening critical thinking skillsof learners for utilization in foreign language classrooms. Amongcritical thinking skills is the mode of assessment methods utilized.By managing modes of assessing language learners’ abilities,language teachers, in turn, help them to develop critical thinkingskills. Students that exhibit the most difficulties are those whopreviously dealt with mild to strong reading and spelling problems intheir native language during their early schooling life and arecurrently expected to study a new language in school. Otherinstructional methods beneficial for at-risk foreign languagelearners include:
Thelanguage should be taught using different input and output strategiessuch as kinesthetic, visual, auditory, and tactile. The teachers canalso utilize several learning avenues simultaneously to enhancememory like mnemonic devices for memory, speaking, listening,writing, and reading. In addition, while teaching new sounds andsymbols, it is advisable to teach one or two. The tutor can also askthe students to imitate their mouth’s movements and trace theletter pattern while saying and spelling new sounds and symbols.
Teacherscan provide a guided pair work activities for practice andreinforcement of a concept by pairing a strong and weaker student.Efforts should be directed to providing avenues for students wherethey could practice and review concepts frequently to assureautomaticity. Moreover, teachers should organize language conceptsfrom simple to complex.
Thelanguage concepts should be taught in a logical progression thatwould aid learners in categorizing ideas. This strategy calls forproviding structured, explicit overviews of what was covered in classlike study guides of the day’s activities and summary sheets. Thelearning process should also progress from the most frequently toleast frequently appearing letter-sound patterns for students toexperience quick success.