325.  Subject: IEP and Foreign LanguageI am a parent of an eighth grader with an IEP/ NY school. He is struggling with Spanish. I am confused as to what modifications or accommodations can be made so this class is manageable. It has been strongly suggested by the school administration that my son withdraw from the class.  Other than some accommodations for print/font size I don’t see too much else added to help him with this a foreign language class. I am told that much can not be done because it is a foreign language. Any suggestions?  I came across your email as I was trying to find some resources on the internet…

ANSWER:

 
THANK YOU so much for your question and for visiting our Web Sites!!!!
 
I am NOT a Special Education Specialist but, from my perspective as a Bilingual/ESL Teacher and Specialist in Language Acquisition, I know that ALL non-English-speaking students, all grades, learn English, a second (or foreign) language to them!!!   And, of course, there are thousands of students with IEP's who are very successful bilingual / trilingual students at all grades.  
 
There are many modifications/accommodations that may be appropriate for your student and for many students learning Spanish-as-a-Foreign(Second)-Language in the middle school grades.   Many times, Foreign (and Second) Language teachers may still employ instructional strategies that emphasize grammatical knowledge of and about the Spanish language.   I am sure that the "GOALS and OBJECTIVES" of all Foreign Language classes are, in addition to grammatical knowledge, the development of listening, speaking, reading, writing, cultural and vocabulary skills and abilities.   It is in these curricular areas where modifications/accommodations are possible for ALL students.
 
You may wish to point out to the Spanish teacher the very close relationship between English and Spanish Latin-Root Words and Greek-Root words.   There are thousands of English-Spanish "cognates," words that are spelled similarly, sound similarly and have similar meanings in English and Spanish.   These words prevail in science, the arts, history, civics, geography, mathematics, and just in plain communication sources in English and in Spanish.    Your son could benefit --and his entire class could benefit-- from a concerted effort in learning these English/Spanish COGNATES based on Latin-Root- and Greek-Root-Words.  
 
Also there are many cultural aspects of the languages --English and Spanish-- that could be compared and contrasted.   There are many related instructional activities --like preparing a Family Trees, experiencing Culinary Traditions during Holidays, Talking through Gestures, etc., that would achieve the rigorous academic goals while providing opportunities for success to ALL students.   And, of course, there are visual (pictures and cut-outs) vocabulary development activities that could involve all students, promote vocabulary development and enhance a vast knowledge of the languages --both English and Spanish.
 
The print accommodations/modifications you indicate may also be important.   In all my classes I use an ELMO which allows me to enhance and beautifully display all printed matter in huge big letters on the film screen in my class, as well as access and display millions of interesting educational sites about SPAIN and all Latin American countries where Spanish is the dominant language.   ALL Foreign Language Classes may be team taught with other academic content areas, not just for the common vocabulary but also for the many interesting cultural and historical aspects of the Spanish/English connections.
 
I hope these ideas help!!!   In addition, I will refer your question to Special Education Specialist Susana Brito, experienced teacher in Florida and California, who may also provide additional insights.
 
Many THANKS for your interest in my Web Sites.  

 

 


For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

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