Supporting Special Student Populations
- How are students with special learning needs identified?
- How can teachers support students with special learning needs in the TWI program?
- How are special education services integrated with the TWI program?
- How can teachers support new students who enter the program in the upper elementary grades and do not have grade-level language skills in one or both program languages? How can teachers help them to participate in activities that require grade-level language skills?
- How can the programs support students whose native language is not one or both of the program languages (i.e., third language speakers)?
- On what basis are children retained in TWI programs? What if a student is only having trouble in one language? How can you be sure that students are retained for academic difficulties and not limited second language proficiency?
5. How can the programs support students whose native language is not one or both of the program languages (i.e., third language speakers)?
Children who do not speak either language in which the TWI program operates represent a very small segment of the student population in those programs. Perhaps for this reason, there is no research looking at specific accommodations or supports for third language speakers.
However, anecdotal evidence and research on English language learning suggest there are several things that teachers and parents can do to help these students. First, teachers should be aware that such students are learning through a nonnative language at all times, unlike their peers, who are doing that only about half of the time. The use of sheltered instruction (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2004), a core teaching strategy in TWI programs, will help these children to understand the content material and keep pace with instruction.
In addition, the school should be encouraged to recognize the value of the studentsí native languages in any way possible. The halls, the school library, the public announcements, and the curriculum can reflect the existence of additional languages and the cultures they represent. Whenever possible, the third language should be brought into the TWI classroom so that all students get exposure to it. If necessary, translators should be made available periodically to ensure that parents understand written and oral information.
Finally, parents can be encouraged to help their children continue to develop their native language at home, so that it is not lost in the process of learning new languages. For example, for many third language children, there are Saturday schools that can help them with their first language.