Teach English in Nanshi Zhen - Yongzhou Shi

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It comes as no surprise that when in a classroom setting, not all the students will sit quietly and be on their best behaviour at all times. Even Teaching English as a Foreign Language itself comes with its own direct issues, and throwing learning difficulties into the mix, can make teaching even more tedious for both teachers and the students in the classroom. Firstly, what exactly are learning difficulties? A learning difficulty, according to the Learning Disabilities Association of America, can be defined as a neurologically based condition that can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing and/or math and also higher-level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or short term memory and attention. Essentially, this condition hinders a student from giving their undivided attention in the classroom that would allow them to get the most out of the lesson. A few of these learning difficulties could include the common ADHD (which include both Attention Deficit and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and Dyslexia, among many others. Having a student or students within the classroom setting with such learning disorders can pose as very challenging. The teacher may not be trained and equipped to deal with the difficulty, it can become disruptive to other students and the child with the learning difficulty may not know how best to deal with it, especially if they are unaware about having the learning disability. Now how do you go about identifying students in the classroom with such learning difficulties? From my own experience within the classroom as a teacher, it is not always easy to identify students with learning difficulties. Many times, teachers mistakes these difficulties as just behavioural issues, which I have been very guilty of myself. They sum it up as the child just being rude or disruptive. However, many times, this “disruptive” behaviour goes much deeper. I have seen where students have seemed disinterested in the lesson or they randomly start roaming the classroom and fail to pay attention to the lesson. Later on, a parent or colleague would make me aware that the child in question received a diagnosis of having a learning difficulty. The US Department of Health and Human Services highlights a few signs that teachers can use to identify if a student is suffering from a learning difficulty. These could include problems reading and/or writing, poor memory, trouble following directions, clumsiness, problems staying organized and difficulty paying attention. These are just a few signs; the list is much more extensive. Nevertheless, teachers can take into account these common signs to figure out if maybe there is a student in the classroom having difficulties. More than likely, there will be times when a student exhibits a few of these signs, as is the case with a few students who I have met, and the first thought will be poor behaviour. If it is that students are displaying these signs and a teacher decides to utilize techniques that aid in tackling behavioural issues but they do not produce successful results, then it may be time to look into whether or not the child or children are suffering from a learning difficulty. The teacher should make it their mandate to speak with upper management or if possible (although it should be done with as much care as possible to avoid embarrassment and discrimination), speak to the parent about the behaviour and all parties can make a decision to get the child some professional help. I want to emphasize professional because a teacher should not be the one to diagnose a student with a learning difficulty unless that teacher has a background in psychology. Teachers may not always have the time to give each student in their classroom their undivided attention for a long time but a teacher should always ensure that they pay close attention to specific behavioural indicators, such as the signs named above. These indicators may just be the key to helping a family (who was previously unaware) out and it would then guide the teacher in tailoring the lesson to adequately be productive for all the students. Teachers should also try to find the time to equip themselves with more information via research so that they can notice the signs even quicker. The signs may not always mean that the student will have a learning disability but it is better to have it checked out just to be on the safe side. Citations 1. Owner Office of Communications at the US Department of Health and Human Service. (2018). What are some signs of learning disabilities?. Retrieved from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/learning/conditioninfo/signs 2. Learning Disabilities Association of America. (n.d). Types of learning disabilities. Retrieved from https://ldaamerica.org/types-of-learning-disabilities/