Difficulties in Teaching English to Students with Learning Disabilities

Difficulties in Teaching English to Students with Learning Disabilities

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General Introduction

Language as a means of communication is significant for people. As it helps to convey a message in both written and spoken form; one must learn at least one language. Since English becomes the most spoken language, people start to show a huge interest in learning this language. Thus, English language has become a lingua franca even though the amount of its native speakers is not numerous.1 In the narrowest sense a lingua franca is a language used by two speakers whose native languages are totally different from each other and where one or both speakers are using it as a foreign language (any language in addition to the first). Many Europeans, for instance, when come to operate their business; they usually express themselves in English language as well as their own languages (where these are different). It is also believed that the influence of American economy and culture is seemed to be the source of the spread of English language in other part of the world. English is suggested to be one of the most spoken languages like Latin in Europe in the Middle Ages even people who do not speak English know some words such as: bank, computer, hamburger, hospital, chocolate, hot dog, radio, taxi, restaurant, and Walkman. Of course many of these words have taken their roots in other languages (for example: chocolate, hamburger, and taxi). Most of the masters of romance languages are likely to have a number of words in common. But there are many false cognates, where similar words have various meaning in different language. For example, French word “decevoir” (= disappoint) contrasts with English word “deceive” (to persuade someone to believe something which is not true).

1Jeremy Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching, New Edition, England, 1991, p1


General Introduction

There are numerous reasons for the growth and the spread of English language but among them our interest will be at the level of its historical, economic and cultural factors.

In 1620, when the English came to the United States of America for the purpose of colonizing the people of the New World; they brought with them not only a set of religious beliefs, but also their language (English). Although some years later, the Americans pushed the Pilgrim Fathers (English) to relinquish their interests and surrender, the English language remained and it is still the predominant language of the world’s greatest economic and political power.

It was the same in Australia; the English colonized and brought

their language to Australia. In other parts of the British Empire, English language had control over other means of communications (others languages). For example: in India as there were many indigenous languages; English became the lingua franca which helped the British to maintain their power on the Indians.

The spread of commerce throughout the world, and in particular, the growth of the United States as the world economic power becomes an asset to the spread of English language. The international commerce (globalization) takes English along with it daily. Much travel is carried on, around the world, in English language. Since English language appears at the level of information exchange, English becomes the dominant language of the academic discourse all around the world. It is often the lingua franca of international conferences and some international articles are written in English which seems to be the default language.


General Introduction

Our present work deals with the learning disabilities that some students may experience when they come to learn English as a foreign language. Learning disabilities which are well defined in the literature review may manifest itself in different levels such as: reading, written language, spoken language and math. The purpose of this present study is to show learning disabilities towards English language. Therefore, it aims at recognizing the motivation that pushes students to learn English. Since we are dealing with learning disabilities; students are selected as our sample. Another purpose of the work is to know which skill may puzzle students; to know whether students experience learning disabilities or not, and to be familiar with what they do in order to improve their English language.

As this project allows us to collect empirical data about learning disabilities towards English language, it provides us with details about the attitude of students towards English language. It is worth mentioning that this present study permits us to be aware of what students generally expect from their teacher. Therefore, it helps us to know students who experience learning disabilities including the level of disabilities. Thus, the question that should be asked is: to what extend may students experience learning disabilities?

Accordingly, our present study is divided into three different chapters. The first one deals with the literature review which means the theoretical part of our work. The second one is based on the methodology which details with the method that we have used in order to carry out our research. The final one is about the findings and discussion of data collected through questionnaires.


Chapter one: Review of the literature


Learning disabilities can be an obstacle that prevents the learner from meeting his or her intellectual and life potential, it results in unexpected academic underachievement and it may impact the acquisition, organization, understanding, retention and use of information. Furthermore, Learning disabilities vary considerably, both in terms of the functions they impact and the severity of the impact experienced. The appropriate accommodations of learning disabilities depend on the individual’s strengths as well as his or her specific difficulties.

In this chapter, we attempt to define deeply learning disability and describe its different types. Within this theoretical work which is based on the summary and the paraphrase of some books related to learning disability, we are going to point out the attitudes of students who experience learning disability towards success and to describe the common characteristics of learning disability. The final part of this chapter will be dealt with the hardness of English language as the source of learning disability.

1.1 Definition of Learning Disabilities

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