INCLUSIVE EDUCATION, THE REAL CHALLENGE.
In broad terms, inclusive education intends all children, regardless of their learning difficulties, possible disabilities, sociocultural background or specific personal conditions, to receive a high quality education and the necessary support to ensure curricular success and sense of achievement.
A successful implementation of inclusive education implies accepting, understanding and attending to students´ difficulties in the school context. On the whole, the driving principle relies on making children feel at ease, appropriately challenged and supported, trying to exert a positive influence in the familiar context.
The obvious benefits of inclusive education seem to be out of the question in modern educational systems; however, this fact does not diminish the difficulties that attention to diversity entail. Indeed, children “come in all types” (Moon, 2000); in fact, there are many ways in which a class of pupils differ, quite apart from academic ability. Therefore, the FL teacher must know the procedures to cope with the natural diversity in any classroom or specific needs of educational support.
Undoubtedly, fostering children´s motivation (Dörnyey, 2001) is especially effective to ensure success for those children who present any kind of LD, since it may act as an additional value to the specific measures devised. Nevertheless, focusing on the vast array of specific needs of educational support (SNES) we may come across in a classroom, it seems indispensable to count on ordinary or specific support measures. Amongst these strategies it is worth highlighting:
- The first of them is that of graded tasks; basically, it consists in the possibility to work on the same activity but at different levels. This way I can assure that I provide the right challenge to all students and that they all can succeed, whether they belong to a strong or weak level. Through this strategy all children can work on a song by filling different gapped versions of the lyrics and correct without being “stigmatised” as a “weak” student.
- Another possibility is self-access activities. It refers to students working on different activities with different resources, individually or in groups. This requires a specific classroom organisation in which children can find interesting challenges in some classroom corners (i.e. “the games corner”, “the investigators corner”, and the like).
- In addition to this, activities with different responses and open-ended activities, where students can apply their skills at their own level will be a valuable resource to meet their needs, like writing a personal diary. There is a clear benefit for SNES children in these tasks, as they can progress at their pace and without the pressure of time limit or the perception of unreachable task.
- Curricular adaptations are indispensable once a child has been diagnosed with SEN. In them, there is a clear distinction between significant or non-significant ones, depending on whether the curricular elements must be modified or not. These adaptations shall consider the Orientation Team support and include the adapted evaluation instruments and procedures. Sometimes the adaptation measures for talented students go through more challenging tasks, deepening into the contents, for example searching for extra information, etc.
A final reflection about the measures to attend diversity from the FL area should focus on the relevance of reward and positive feedback. Decisively, the role of the teacher is paramount to instill a sense of progress and achievement. Obviously, this important task requires deep knowledge of the group, coordination with the specialists and Orientation Team; and most importantly, the personal convincement that every child can be helped in his way to learn a second language despite their difficulties. In the end, if the main aim is to develop the students´ communicative competence, this can be achieved at different levels.
Moon, J. “Children Learning English” Ed. Macmillan. 2005.
Dörnyei, Z. “Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom”. Cambridge University Press. 2001.
Video by: SSHRC-CRSH