Teaching French to a non-sighted undergraduate: enhancing everyone’s learning

Geraldine Enjelvin

Abstract


In September 2006, during induction week, the French language tutors at the University of Northampton discovered that, John (not his real name), a registered blind student, had enrolled on their post A-level course. Although they had attended a session on accessible documents, the tutors concerned had no previous experience of teaching a non-sighted student. As expressed by Dickinson in 2005, it is ‘one thing to go on training about disabilities, [it is another] to have a blind student’ (836). This article therefore sets out to illustrate how the French tutors concerned adjusted their (online as well as offline) practices with a view to (1) creating a supportive, enabling, and inclusive teaching/learning (T/L) environment and (2) fostering independent learning (during, and outside of, lessons). Last but not least, this paper also offers suggestions for future, anticipatory adjustments to teaching strategies and (T/L as well as assessment) offline/online materials in line with the lessons learnt from the 2006-2008 academic years.

Keywords


Blind; differentiated T/L; Higher Education institutions (HEI); independent learning; Modern Foreign Languages (MFL); non-sighted students; reasonable adjustments; visually impaired (VI).

Full Text:

PDF

References


Beth [pseud.]. (2008) Email exchange. Northampton

Bolt, D. (2004) Disability and the rhetoric of inclusive higher education. Journal of Further & Higher Education 28, (4): 353-8.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0309877042000298849

Carrington-Porter, D., Patton, B. and Roy, A.W.N. (1994) Visually handicapped students in higher education: the position in Eastern Europe. European Journal of Special Needs Education 9, (1): 40-51.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0885625940090104

Cooper, H. (1996) Teaching modern languages to visually impaired children. Language Learning Journal 13: 6-9

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09571739685200031

Dickinson, A. (2005) Don't panic (smile)! How visually impaired students access online learning and giving realistic guidelines to academic staff at Coventry University. International Congress Series 1282: 836-40.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ics.2005.05.183

European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. (2006) Special needs education in Europe - (Volume 2) - Provision in post-primary education http://www.european-agency.org/site/info/publications/agency/ereports/docs/18docs/Thematic-EN.pdf

General Teaching Council for England. (2007) Transforming teaching and learning with ICT. www.gtce.org.uk/research/romtopics/rom_teachingandlearning/ict_nov07/study

Hamilton, E., Prime, K., Gilson, G., Caron, E., Rathlef, J. and Fischer, H. (2006) Students who are blind or visually impaired accessing foreign languages. Mobility International USA, http://www.miusa.org/ncde/tipsheets/foreignlang/

HESA. (1997) First Year UK-domiciled HE Students by level of course, mode of study, gender, and disability 1996/97 http://www.hesa.ac.uk/dox/dataTables/studentsAndQualifiers/download/disab9697.csv

HESA. (2005) Table 11b - First year UK-domiciled HE students by qualification aim, mode of study, gender and disability 2004/05. http://www.hesa.ac.uk/dox/dataTables/studentsAndQualifiers/download/disab0405.xls

HESA. (2007) Table 11b - First Year UK-domiciled HE Students by qualification aim, mode of study, gender and disability 2006/07 http://www.hesa.ac.uk/dox/dataTables/studentsAndQualifiers/download/disab0607.xls

Lewin-Jones, J., and Hodgson, J. (2004) Differentiation strategies relating to the inclusion of a student with a severe visual impairment in higher education (modern foreign languages). The British Journal of Visual Impairment 22, (1): 32-6.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/026461960402200106

Hodgson, J. and Lewin-Jones, J. (2007) Differentiation strategies for the inclusion of students with severe visual impairment in MFL modules in Higher Education, Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, http://www.llas.ac.uk/resources/paper/2724

Holec, H. (1981) Autonomy and Foreign Language Learning. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Klinkosz, W., Sekowski, A. and Brambring, M. (2006) Academic achievement and personality in university students who are visually impaired. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness 100, (11): 666-75.

Konur, O. (2002) Assessment of disabled students in higher education: current public policy issues. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 27, (2): 131-52.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602930220128715

McEwan, T. Cairncross, S. and MacLean, A. (2003) Good practice for disabled students is good practice for all. Napier Staff Conference: Engaging our Students http://www.ed.napier.ac.uk/staffconference/june2003/papers/mcewan.pdf

Meyer, B. Haywood, N., Sachdev, D. and Faraday, S. (2008) Independent Learning -Literature Review, Research Report DCSF-RR051, Learning and Skills Network, http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/DCSF-RR051.pdf

Nikolic, T. (1986) Teaching a foreign language to visually impaired children in school. Language Teaching 19, (3): 218-31

http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S026144480001096X

Orsini-Jones, M., Courtney. C. and Dickinson, A. (2005) Supporting foreign language learning for a blind student: a case study from Coventry University. Support for Learning 20, (3): 146-52.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0268-2141.2005.00379.x

Orsini-Jones, M. (2009) Visual impairment in Higher Education - Measures for inclusion: coping with the challenge of visual impairment and blindness in university undergraduate level language learning, Support for Learning - British Journal of Learning Support 24 (1): 27-34.

Penman, C., Ricci, Julie. (2009) Reflections on the experience of a visually-impaired learner of French, Edinburgh Napier University Staff Conference: Enabling our Students to Become Effective Learners http://www2.napier.ac.uk/ed/staffconference/june2009/poster/penman.ppt

Pumfrey, P. (2008) Moving towards inclusion? The first-degree results of students with and without disabilities in Higher Education in the UK: 1998-2005. European Journal of Special Needs Education 23, (1): 31-46.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08856250701791229

Richardson, J. and Roy, A. (2002) The representation and attainment of students with a visual impairment in higher education. British Journal of Visual Impairment 20, (1): 37-48.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/026461960202000107

Schneider, C. (2008) Interview. Elpforblind.eu http://elpforblind.eu//admin/uploaded/Interview_Christel_Schneider_EN_5.doc

Stevens, A. and Marsh, D. (2005) Foreign language teaching within special needs education: learning from Europe-wide experience. Support for Learning 20, (3): 109-14.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0268-2141.2005.00373.x

The English Collins Dictionary - English Definition & Thesaurus (2000) http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-definitions/

The University of Northampton. (2008) Student services: the Access Ability Team. http://www.northampton.ac.uk/departments/studentservices/access-ability/

Wenden, A. (1991) Learner strategies for learner autonomy. London: Prentice Hall.

PMid:1915591




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14234/elehe.v1i1.8