ADHD students learning English – part 2

Learning foreign languages is an exciting experience that not only develops students’ mind, skills and attitudes, but also offers possibilities of changing one’s entire life. In my career of teaching English at Elementary and Secondary Schools and language institutes in Brazil I would often encounter children with special needs among my class. I taught many children whose teachers had previously given up on them, who then became good learners, succeeding in class with understanding and excitement for learning.

Students sense when their teacher loses confidence in them, especially if they have a learning disability. Our job as teachers is to encourage all our students to use their stronger abilities in order to compensate for the weaker ones (Natalia Turketi, 2010).

Natalia Turketi believes “the first step for the special needs educational sector is for the teachers to educate themselves, be open to a variety of teaching styles and exhibit the willingness to implement or experiment with them. Perhaps too many educators, parents and even students still tend to believe that some people are “hard-wired” with their learning disabilities, where progress can almost never be achieved no matter the effort attempted. This leads to a misguided resignation and belief that these students were just born that way and this is simply how their brain functions. However, as the recent results in neurology and human brain development show, this is not the case at all (Shaw, 2001; Schwartz, 2003; Doidge, 2007; Goldberg, 2009, Fernandez, 2009). Research shows that the brain of learning disabled people is able to reorganize and evolve, with its stronger areas supporting the underdeveloped ones. When taught and instructed properly, children with ADHD, Dyslexia and other learning problems are able to experience perhaps not instant but ultimately sustainable success in their studies.”

She also believes that “there is no reason for teachers to feel hopeless or frustrated when having students with learning differences in classrooms. In fact, by focusing on the needs of these learners we actually live up to our teaching goal and make the learning process successful and enjoyable for all our students. We should discard the notion that the presence of ADHD and other students in our classes, whose learning abilities demand the use of non-traditional methods and techniques, poses some kind of an obstacle or encumbrance for our teaching.” We should give ADHD students a chance to learn English. They are able to do so provided that certain conditions are respected.

I suggest your read Natalia Turketi’s “Teaching English to ADHD students”, 2010.

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Antonio Coutelo

Antonio Coutelo - Graduated in Portuguese and English Languages by the Catholic University of Pernambuco (2009), holds an MSc degree in Language from the Catholic University of Pernambuco (2012) and is now pursuing his doctoral degree. He currently lectures at the Catholic University of Pernambuco and researches the following subjects: foreign language, English, deaf, teaching-learning and Brazilian Sign Language.

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