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Archive for July, 2018

Assisting College Students with Foreign Language Learning Difficulties

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

Assisting College Students with Foreign Language Learning Difficulties

 

Students who have certain learning difficulties often struggle mightily to be successful. Add a foreign language, and that can be a formula for disaster. In some cases, a student may have no diagnosed learning difficulties, but may face significant struggles when learning a new language.

 

However, that doesn’t mean these students are doomed to fail. Whether it’s an ESL student attending an English speaking university, or simply a student attempting to meet a foreign language, graduation requirement, there are programs that can help.

 

1. Encourage Students with Emerging Difficulties to Get an Assessment

Sometimes, if a student has never faced a particular challenge, they may have a learning issue that has gone undiscovered. Any student who suddenly finds themselves struggling with learning a language should seek help and information.

 

For one thing, it is now believed that Foreign Language Learning Disability is real thing. In addition to this, a student may have found ways to compensate for another learning issue in the past. However, now that they are challenged to learn a new language, those methods may not work effectively.

 

Fortunately, there is help available. In order to comply with ADA regulations, colleges must provide assistance to students with learning difficulties. This includes conducting assessments for potential learning disabilities and providing students with accommodations.

 

Test

2. Students with Diagnosed Disabilities Should Review Their Accommodations and Use Them

Whether a student is newly diagnosed or has dealt with a language learning disability for some time, they are entitled to certain accommodations. Any student with a learning difficulty who is struggling to learn a new language, either as part of a class or to attend classes as a non-native speaker should know which accommodations they are entitled to.

 

Sadly, many students forego their accommodations, often for the following reasons:  

  • They aren’t aware they are entitled to them at the college level
  • They are unsure who to speak with about accommodations
  • They feel embarrassed to ask for the accommodations they are entitled to have.
  • They are new to the country and don’t understand their rights.

It’s important that students with foreign language difficulties have people to both educate and advocate for them.

 

3. Help Students Identify and Access the Help They Need

The good news is that there are many sources of help for students who struggle to learn a foreign language. First, the student must identify exactly what they are trying to accomplish, and what their specific struggles are. For example, one student may be struggling with a composition class because they aren’t used to writing in English. Another student may be graduation soon, but is having difficulty writing an entry level resume. A third student may be struggling to write up his personal statement for graduate school admission.

 

Once a student knows where they need help, it becomes easier to suggest resources for them. Sylvia Giltner from ResumesCentre says, “It’s common for students and others who aren’t native speakers to struggle with practical writing tasks. Fortunately, there is help for students to learn languages, and to cover any gaps in the meantime.”

 

Time Management

4. Tackle Other Roadblocks to Success Such as Time Management and Organization

When a student struggles with something academically, it is important to ensure that they stay on top of everything else. After all, adding on another difficulty or struggle just makes things worse. This is why it’s imperative that students work hard to drop any academic bad habits, and simply learn to stay on top of things.

 

The last thing a struggling student needs is to make things worse for themselves by falling behind. This is why it’s so important for students to identify other things that could stop them from being successful. These might include:  

  • Procrastination
  • Assignment Avoidance
  • Skipping Class
  • Disorganization
  • Pulling Too Many All-Nighters

Bad habits can distract from what the student really needs to work on, foreign language mastery. The good news is that there is a lot of help available for students who need to get focused. There are note taking apps that help students keep their work organized. There are also time management tools such as the Pomodoro system. There are even tools that can block certain websites so that students don’t get phased by distractions. Students can apply a few of these ‘fixes’ so that they can focus on their real goals.

 

Christopher Mercer, a founder of Citatior, notes: “I believe Pomodoro technique is the best way to stay focused and productive during language learning. It helped me not only learn Spanish and Chinese effectively but also coding languages.”

5. Explore All Language Learning Options

There is no single, best way to learn to speak a foreign language. This is a good thing, because in many instances, it isn’t that the student cannot learn a new language. Instead, the problem is that a particular teaching method just doesn’t work for them. To succeed, students should be encouraged to explore all of the options available to them.

 

For example, student who struggles to keep up in a large, lecture class may do well in a small classroom where students engage in conversation using the new language they are learning. Still another student may do best with an immersive experience. They might benefit from visiting neighborhoods, restaurants, and cultural centers or viewing TV shows and movies in a foreign language.

 

Many language apps and online language courses also offer multi-sensory learning experiences. Instead of simply listening to lectures, students also spend time viewing videos, listening to the language, and providing both typed and spoken feedback.

6. Wrapping Things Up

Student’s struggle with foreign languages for a variety of reasons. Some may have an organic learning disability. This may be directly related to learning a foreign language or not. These are students who need assistance ranging from getting an assessment to ensuring they have access to the accommodations they are qualified to receive. In addition, there are also students who simply need to find different pathways to language mastery. Fortunately, there is no shortage of tools and apps available to them.

 

Learning a new language is something that everyone can accomplish. For some students, getting this done is just a bit more challenging. These are the students who just need a little help.