Answered by Cindy Perras
When a student with learning disabilities also happens to be an English language learner, the issues surrounding identification and intervention can be quite complex. Careful consideration as to programming is key – this student will continue to require support in English language acquisition as well as receiving appropriate special education intervention and support. The following are generally considered to be key components of a differentiated program for students with LDs who are ELLs:
- Culturally and linguistically responsive teachers
- Culturally and linguistically responsive and relevant instruction
- A supportive learning environment
- Assistance with English language acquisition
- Collaboration between classroom teachers and teaching colleagues who have qualifications and experience in teaching English as a Second Language
- Support in general education classrooms
- Intensive research-based interventions
Educators should consider using some of the following effective research-based interventions and strategies:
- Using visuals to reinforce concepts and vocabulary (concrete objects, colour photographs, etc.);
- Utilizing reciprocal teaching strategies, such as Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS); Click here to visit the LD@school website and access the article, "Peer-Mediated Learning Approaches".
- Acknowledging and supporting the strategic use of students' native language;
- Providing opportunities for students to practice speaking English in both formal and informal contexts throughout the day; and
- Utilize differentiated strategies to teach reading; Click here to visit the LD@school website and access the article, "Strategies for Teaching Reading to English Language Learners with Learning Disabilities".
As with any other student with LDs, the Individual Education Plan (IEP) of ELLs with LDs should include a statement of strengths, as well as needs and appropriate teaching and assessment strategies and accommodations.
For more in-depth information on supporting students with LDs who are also ELLs, please click here to visit the LD@school website and access the summary, "Language Acquisition Difficulty or Learning Disability? How to Differentiate and Support English Language Learners with a Learning Disability".
Cindy Perras is the English Educational Consultant with the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, working as a member of the LD@school Team and LD@school/TA@l’école Advisory Committee. Cindy is an educator with 35 years of experience in special education, as a teacher, Consultant, Co-ordinator, and parent. Her professional qualifications include a Masters of Education degree from Brock University, a Bachelor of Education degree from the Ontario Teachers’ Education College, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Windsor, and a Specialist in Special Education; additionally, Cindy has completed the Ph.D. coursework at OISE/UT. Cindy enjoys researching and writing articles for LD@school, connecting with Ontario school district administrators and educators, and assisting with planning for the Educators’ Institute.