My son is a sophomore taking his 2nd year in German (he plans on going to a 4-year college after high school). He's on an IEP for a learning disability. Currently he has no adaptations on his IEP for his German class. He's struggling and barely getting by with a D-. His biggest challenge is testing which requires him to spell the word correctly without the help of a word bank. He gets the word right and gets the verb right but spells it incorrectly. His teacher allows him to retake the test verbally after school but he doesn't get full credit.
No one ever brings up foreign language adaptations at his meetings so I'm not sure if this is something that can be discussed. Does anyone have any experience with modifications in a foreign language class? What kind of modifications could be considered?
Of course my son wants to take the course next year because he can then go to Germany in the summer at a student cost. I'm all for that, but the class is pulling his GPA down and the constant 'F's' are really bringing his motivation and self-esteem down.
Of course they don't bring up the subject of FL accommodations at the IEP meeting because almost no schools no what to do and some will even say FL is an elective so they aren't required to do anything. Tommyrot! FL is open to all students, required by almost all colleges, and many high schools also require 2 years of FL. There is stuff on the internet about how to accommodate for students with LD. I don't have time right now to pursue this. You will have to bring the subject up yourself, and you should hold an IEP meeting with the German teacher present, and in fact, you may want to make this a special IEP meeting specifically to address FL needs, separate from other stuff, because it's going to take some brainstorming. Let them know ahead of time what you want to discuss, and let them come up with their ideas, but be sure to bring your own.
Also, get the team to think about what kind of accommodations are common for kids with spelling problems in English classes. Unless spelling is the goal of the activity, spelling errors should be overlooked (this might include capitalization in German). In other words, if the activity is a spelling test, errors would be counted, but if your son has to write answers to questions or write an essay in class without benefit of a computer with German spellcheck, then he should not be downgraded. If he cannot do homework with a computer with German spellcheck, then he should not be downgraded. These would be typical accommodations for English classes, so they can be applied to FL as well.
Foreign Language teachers all will tell you the skill areas to be developed are: reading, writing, listening, speaking. Spelling is part of reading. I cannot imagine it is just spelling that is bring your son's grade down to D-. Ask the teacher what the grades are based on and what else is bringing down his grade.
Theoretically the goal of FL education also includes learning about the culture.
Ordinarily, I would suggest a different 2nd language, but since he is in 10th grade, I second Pandora's recommendations. How did he do in the first year of German? I had to hire a tutor in order for my gs to pass the Spanish proficiency exam.
Makes you wonder why they don't call their own IEP meeting when a student on an IEP is failing subjects???? Obviously, the IEP isn't working. Ahh well, wishful thinking.
My experience with foreign language in high school (and I do not have LDs) was that almost all students spoke, listened, and read at about the same levels (not very fluid, with mistakes in accuracy) so the biggest determining factor a teacher has for grading is usually the written work. I actually do understand where spelling is responsible for bringing a student's Foreign Language grades down to D's or low C's, because many college-prep high schools are trying to utilize FL standards that the College Board sets for students who ultimately want to get AP credit. www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/prep_lang.html There is an emphasis on proper spelling, even down to accent marks. (In other words, using the correct letters, in the correct order, could still be marked wrong if an accent mark was omitted or drawn in the incorrect place.)
My son's French teacher came right out and told me that she was more "lenient" in Freshman French than in Soph. French, but there would be expectations for even more writing in Junior year. We decided not to have him take a 3rd year of F.L. so we didn't bother requesting formal accommodations for it on his 504Plan. His counselor, as part of his college recommendation letter, even commented that his GPA was pulled down because he opted to take F.L., even though he could have been excused. (As it turned out, few of the 4-yr. universities he applied to as an engineering major even had F.L. requirements. I understand most Liberal Arts colleges, however, do want their incoming students to have at least 2 years of the same F.L.)
Getting back to your son's situation, it seems to me as if his desire to take a 3rd year of German is only because he wants to travel with a school group in the summer between his Junior and Senior year. He will have met the high school and most university requirements for 2 years of F.L. by the end of this semester. Does he envision himself using German in college or in a career? My personal feeling would be to see if the school will let him travel with the other students next summer, even if he DOESN'T take a 3rd year of German. I realize his skills might be a bit "rusty" by then, but maybe there's even an "afterschool German club" he could still participate in, to maintain some contact with the language and other classmates. Or can he take it as a Junior on a pass/fail basis, so it doesn't impact his GPA?
"Courage is not the lack of fear, it is acting in spite of it."
It is known that students with certain learning disabilities will have problems in learning a foreign language. The following article from LD OnLine may be of help in understanding why and what can be done to help them in foreign language classrooms:
Another thing to consider, especially at school if computer with German spellcheck is not available (or if your son refuses to be conspicuous as the only kid in the class using a computer) would be for all in-class writing activities, he should have a scribe. Not necessarily just for spelling — if he's slow at writing or spends too much time focusing on the writing as opposed to addressing the topic at hand, then the point is to express his thinking in Germany.
– consider alternative assignments
– allow your son to raise his grade by doing a few extra assignments. Maybe read a short news or magazine article about something of interest to him (may find a website for German-speaking teens), for example, and make a small presentation to the class. Or create a travel brochure auf Deutsch for his imaginary trip to Germany. Or design an advertisement for a German product vs. an American product (showing German superiority, of course). Or seek out a traditional recipe auf Deutsch, make it at home, and bring it to class for a tasting. Or do a skit with 2 or 3 classmates. Something fun so he'll be willing to do it outside of class as extra work.