chapter  10
15 Pages

Modern Foreign Languages Keith B ov a ir and B rian R obbins

In the mid-1980s the teaching of modern foreign languages to pupils with learning difficulties was a rare event. Often they were withdrawn from these lessons to deal with their first language difficulties. Gradually, evidence was being established that teaching another language was exciting and rewarding for the pupil with special educational needs (Bovair, M., 1995; Bovair and Bovair, 1992; Bovair et a l ., 1992; Robbins, 1995). It required the understanding that pupils with learning difficulties need what all pupils need which is:

Also, teaching modern foreign languages requires a particular style of teaching:

Before all this was recognized as a means to establish access to a subject which was often exclusive, the confidence of teachers had to be established to enable them to develop appropriate differentiated materials. The debate about entitlement had to be won and the doors to experiential learning had to be opened to establish motivation to teach and to learn another language. And by learning another language, the European dimension in a pupil’s life becomes more accessible. Robbins (1995 p.l6) points out that:

Each pupil has a right of entitlement to the curriculum, to life experiences, including speaking French, German, Spanish, etc., and to be able to visit these countries. It is an equal opportunity issue. The following anecdote illustrates the opportunities which should exist as a matter of course. In a school for moderate learning difficulties (MLD), the modern foreign language teacher set up a system by which she would give points every time she heard a pupil speak French. There was an award for the pupil with the highest number of points. At the same time a new pupil joined the school. Asked by the headteacher after the morning break (which was supervised by the modern foreign language teacher) how he was getting on, the new pupil quickly replied, ‘Fine, but they all speak French here!’