LANGUAGES WITHOUT LIMITS
'Many pupils with disabilities are intellectually able. The presence of a disability in itself does not necessarily mean that the individual has special educational needs.'
Effective provision for Special Educational Needs
Not all learners who are gifted or talented have additional support needs, but it is worth bearing in mind the following points:
* Not all learners who do require additional support have cognitive difficulties. They span the whole range of ability and some will be very bright.
* The tendency to focus on a single ability or disability sometimes distracts us from the other abilities a learner might have, and these other abilities may include a gift for languages.
* Language learning seems to have the potential (albeit unpredictable) to reach parts of the brain that other subject areas do not reach, so that, occasionally, learners have succeeded in MFL while struggling to succeed in, say, English, or Maths. (For more on unpredictability, see download, below.)
* Some learners of high academic ability suffer from low self-esteem and are very conscious of what they see as their own failings. Sometimes learners in 'top' classes are very concerned about being 'right' and are more reluctant to speak the foreign language than those in the 'bottom' class who may be less aware of their mistakes. In languages it is often those willing to have-a-go who are more likely to succeed. Gifted and talented learners may need help to overcome this handicap.
What additional help might g&t learners need?
Tools that enable them to become less dependent on the teacher and the learning pace of the rest of the class.
Opportunities that enable and encourage them to work independently of the teacher for at least some of the time. For example:
Choice - so that they can develop their skills while following themes and topics that interest them, both in and out of class. (See pages in the Languages Plus section.)
Activities that allow them to develop and extend their language skills but also their personal skills (e.g. peer tutoring, cooperative group work, group leadership).
Freedom and encouragement to pursue their developing interests and to make contacts outside the classroom that help them to do that. (See pages in the Languages Plus section.)
[Links last checked 9.3.11 unless otherwise stated.]
Gifted and talented learners are not always easy to spot...
Gifted and talented - National Curriculum Making the most of the new curriculum to support both gifted and talented students and those with SEN, in languages http://www.all-nsc.org.uk/files/langsinc.pdf
The contribution of multilingualism to creativity
NALDIC: SEN and gifted and talented
The Real Project
The Council for Exceptional Children
The Hertfordshire Grid For Learning