In her article, Foreign Language Learning and Inclusion: Who? Why? What? And How? , Hilary McColl presents some interesting arguments about both the usefulness and the practicality of enacting a full foreign language program for students with disabilities. The article is interesting in many respects, but mainly because of the fact that it addresses so many pertinent issues. It takes the time to not only study the basics on foreign language learning in these young people, but it also digs deeply into the reasons why such learning should take place in all schools.
The article’s main purpose is to provide a thought provoking laundry list of reasons why foreign language learning is so important to the development of a well-educated society, despite some of the concerns that might convince people otherwise. As the title of the article suggest, McColl takes the time to answer some of the important basic questions about foreign language learning and the inclusion of certain students. The question of who is important in this essay because it is a basic tenet of inclusion.
She is very clear that the group of children she is worried about are those who have been deemed “special” by the system. They are the kids with learning disabilities. They are important to this debate because there is rampant speculation that these children do not have the capacity to learn a foreign language and even if they did, it would not be nearly as important to them as learning some of the other skills out that they might be presented with. She argues against the notion that these students would be better off without having to learn a foreign language and presents compelling evidence to the contrary.
She wastes no time in identifying these students as the ones that she is primarily concerned with for the purposes of this study, though. The article also deals with the issue of why. It is not enough to simply say that a certain group of students must be included in the foreign language teaching. She goes the next step to showing why they must be included in this learning. The purpose of her study was to show that having these children learn a foreign language was not only beneficial to them in their development, but it was also beneficial to society as a whole.
As a general rule, the more that students learn about another country and its languages or cultures, the more likely they will be to make good multi-cultural decisions. Since a society full of people who understand and respect other cultures is absolutely essential to economic and global prosperity, it is in the country’s best interests to include all of its students in any sort of foreign language program. She is adamant about this fact as it is the one basic tenet of her entire argument.
It is also very important to note that she provides a detailed case analysis showing the fact that these students actually have the capacity to learn these types of things. This is incredibly important to the overall body of her work. While her ideas and thoughts are important enough on their own, they can be taken even more seriously when one considers them alongside some solid evidence. This is why her article has gained such recognition, because she has done the research to back up her claims that children with disabilities still have the capacity to gain and grow from the experience of learning a foreign language.
With the important question of why out of the way, the study itself takes a distinct turn to being much more pragmatic. The first part of this article deals with the ideals behind why all students should be included in this type of learning program. The second part is much more about implementation and what must be done. Her discussion of curriculum development is particular intriguing, as she breaks down not only some of the solutions for this learning gap, but she also details what a few of the potential roadblocks could be.
Since McColl has extensive experience working with these children and she knows well what their strengths and weaknesses are, she can provide a detailed analysis of what needs to be done in order to make this happen. This is yet another example where her research has helped to make her arguments more compelling. The how in her article is simply an extension of the implementation plan. She is detailed in how she provides a step-by-step look at home such a program could be constructed. From the staff construction to the perfect implementation of a targeted curriculum, her entire article is based upon a problem and a very definite solution.
She brings up some interesting strategies and ideas that ultimately must be considered because of their validity and the level of research done in her work. All in all, the article itself is an in-depth analysis of what the author feels is a growing social problem with the education system in the United States. Not only are students not getting the growth that they need when they are excluded from foreign language programs, but the nation as a whole suffers as a result. It is well worded, but above that, it is a well supported argument that has excellent ideology to go along with some excellent research.
Courtney from Study Moose
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