A qualitative investigation of latin and students with learning disabilities at the postsecondary level: a narrative journey
Ashe, Althea Corkern
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Learning disabilities and Latin may, on first glance, appear to be unlikely allies. Approximately two-thirds of the four-year institutions of higher education in the United States require the study of a foreign language. Since most students with learning disabilities have special problems with language processing, the difficulty which these students encounter in foreign language classes must be addressed at the postsecondary level. The purpose of this study is to create a unique synthesis of these two seemingly disparate fields, demonstrating that Latin may be a best choice of foreign language for students with learning disabilities.|The story begins with eight students with learning disabilities and three with physical disabilities comprising a self-contained beginning Latin class at a four-year institution of higher education. Accommodations are an integral part of the class structure. The students are profiled through dialog journals, interviews, teacher researcher observations, and psychological and educational assessments on file as part of the evaluation for disability status. Collaboration between student and teacher during the second semester in designing individual plans of study based on learning preferences leads to student requests for memory strategies. During the third semester the focus shifts from teacher-centered multisensory instructional practices to student-centered direct language learning strategies. Oxford's Strategy Inventory for Language Learning is used to determine change in students' frequency of use of language learning strategies as a result of direct training in memory strategies.|In describing and extending the theoretical premises of the curriculum and methodology which I developed as the teacher researcher in my own postsecondary Latin classroom, I address issues such as confidentiality and ambiguities in institutional policy on disability diagnoses, challenges in keeping pace with a departmental syllabus, fulfilling requested accommodations, distractor minimization, testing procedures, (dis)organization, classroom management, inconsistent performance, the need for review, the heterogeneity of students with learning disabilities, and affective changes in students' attitude toward foreign language study. This study documents pioneering efforts to grant students with learning disabilities access to the benefits of language study on a par equal to their non-learning disabled peers.