The urgency of this article is due to the problems of inclusive education that has recently emerged in Kazakhstan. In our opinion, when implementing the inclusive education principles teachers might face the following difficulties: ignorance of children’s psychological and pedagogical peculiarities, resulting in misunderstanding of which students have special educational needs, as well as teachers’ lack of knowledge of approaches and teaching methods of such learners. Thus, the objectives of our study were to identify whether teachers know which children are learners with special educational needs, what difficulties teachers experience when teaching such children, and what methods and techniques should be used in an inclusive classroom. The content knowledge and understanding of inclusive education principles by the English teachers in public schools and methods of teaching children with special educational needs served as the objects of study. The evaluating of knowledge content and understanding of principles was conducted by surveying English teachers and further analysis of the results obtained. The survey showed teachers’ need to gain knowledge on psychological and pedagogical peculiarities of special needs children, methods of teaching English in an inclusive environment, and understanding the principle of short- and long-term subject planning adaptation. Taking into account the fact that the survey results confirmed the theory posed at our study’s beginning, we carried out the second part of our study. Psychological and pedagogical peculiarities of learners with special educational needs have been analysed, and recommendations for teaching such children were identified as well. Based on the survey results, there is a need to organise refresher courses on methodology of teaching English to students with special educational needs. The methods and techniques of teaching such students also require further in-depth study, and psychological and pedagogical peculiarities of special needs children require analysing with further synthesis of new teaching methods.
Since 2015 the integration and inclusion of children with special educational needs into general academic schools takes place in the Republic of Kazakhstan. A short period of the inclusive education development in the country makes the study carried out by domestic scientists in the Kazakhstani schools the most relevant.
Currently, the concept of “inclusive education” is established by decree: it is enshrined in the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Education” and in a number of other statutes and regulations. According to the above-mentioned statutes and regulations, inclusive education means equal access to quality education, irrespective of children’s disabilities.
The categories of learners with special educational needs have been identified so far. These include students having health problems, difficulties in social adaptation, as well as students from families of migrants, repatriates, and refugees living in settlements with no schools, talented and gifted students , other special needs students [2: 36], requiring special educational needs.
As can be seen from the above, the range of learners with special educational needs is quite wide and requires teachers to know special teaching methods, taking into account each student’s special educational needs. This requirement defines the need to analyse the existing special methods of teaching English to learners with special educational needs within the inclusive education and using them when working with various learners.
In addition, this poses the question concerning school teachers’ knowledge of psychological and pedagogical peculiarities of students and special teaching methods necessary for training in an inclusive learning environment.
Based on the need for researching methods suitable to teach English to children with special educational needs, we have analysed the scientific literature on psychological and pedagogical peculiarities of disabled children who have difficulties in social adaptation, non-native speaker learners, as well as talented and gifted students. The methods for teaching English best suited in general education school were selected for such students as the synthesis method.
To identify the knowledge of special teaching methods among English language teachers we conducted a study in the 2019-2020 academic year by surveying public school English teachers to define the inclusive education knowledge satisfaction obtained at the Centres of Excellence and the English teaching methodology in an inclusive classroom. In total, we surveyed 70 teachers of Karaganda secondary schools and the Ushtobe village in Karaganda region.
Results and Discussion
In general, the surveyed teachers have demonstrated an understanding of the inclusive education foundations. Only fourteen of all surveyed teachers found it difficult to answer, and six left this question unanswered. However, none of the teachers could name all categories of children with special educational needs. Only four teachers know almost all categories of special needs students, except for one or two categories.
According to the survey results, eight teachers out of all respondents are satisfied with the knowledge gained at the refresher courses on inclusive education. The worrying aspect is the fact that, according to a survey, twenty seven teachers lack knowledge of English teaching methods, whereas thirty five – of psychological characteristics of children with special educational needs, and forty four – of psychology of teaching English within the inclusive education. One of the teachers noted that he lacks knowledge of how to draw up methodological plans.
Taking into account the educational process peculiarities within the inclusive education, teachers of educational institutions are required to have subject and methodological knowledge, in-depth knowledge of psychology for special needs and special needs education, knowledge of English teaching methodology in an inclusive classroom to ensure that all students are provided with an equal access to quality education . The above results show the need to analyse existing special teaching methods, psychological and pedagogical peculiarities of children with special educational needs, and synthesize new methods and techniques of teaching English, along with other subjects in an inclusive learning environment.
The main challenge the educators face is identifying children who may have special educational needs. As for children with disabilities, everything becomes quite clear. Their training is supported by the psychological, medical and educational guidance center which determines whether the child is able to learn in general education school, what special educational needs they have, and if there is a need to make adjustments to the standard curriculum. The psychological, medical and educational guidance center also gives recommendations on training organization for a disabled student [4, 5].
In addition to center recommendations on the psychological, medical and educational guidance, there are restrictions in studying certain subjects, which are imposed by the Standard curricula (updated content) of basic secondary education for disabled students; some students are recommend special lessons and the second and third language teaching procedure. In particular, mental retardation students are not able to learn English. Such disabled learners as hearing impaired, visually impaired, muscle-skeleton disordered, autistics, and developmentally delayed learn English on a par with other peers.
When analysing the above-mentioned situation in teaching students with disabilities, it’s worth noting that the segregation is recognised by law, which restricts the access of certain students to learning the second and third languages, contrary to the Constitution on the access of all students to quality education .
Students without any disabilities do not take student counselling services. Therefore, identifying special educational needs of students is imposed on both educators and school. In addition, it is the teacher who makes the decision on applying special methods and standard curriculum correction to provide students with special educational needs, except for disabled students.
We shall examine psychological and pedagogical peculiarities of various students.
Hard of hearing. Hearing impairment directly affects the child’s speech development, as well as its main functions: regulating, generalizing, communicative, and control; “language components” (vocabulary, grammatical structure, phonetic composition). The writing disorder occurs due to speech disorders, which manifest itself as various dysgraphias and agrammatisms.
When losing hearing completely, the child’s speech is developed only due to special training and assistive forms: facial expressions, sign language, and lip reading. Hearing impairment or deafness lead to obstacles in communicating with others, slows down the information digesting process, makes children’s experience scanty and affects their personality’s formation. Difficulties in communication and peculiarities of relationships with ordinary children may cause the formation of some negative personality traits, such as aggressiveness and isolation [7: 1064].
Hearing impaired students master oral speech when imitating adults’ speech. A hearing impaired student needs to be helped to understand reading text, since the main difficulty in reading comprehension is the misunderstanding of word and grammatical forms. To teach a child to read consciously, it is necessary to constantly check his understanding of words, grammatical forms and text as a whole, when reading even the easiest text.
In addition to an individual approach toward a hearing impaired student, it is necessary to follow the special needs principles:
- to use methods that can provoke cognitive activity, as well as develop oral and written speech and form child’s important learning skills;
- to be able to alternate between mental and practical activities, present material in bite-size, use interesting and colourful didactic material and visual aids, include play situations into the lesson.
In addition, it is necessary to highlight a number of recommendations for working with hearing impaired children:
- the teacher’s face should always be open and well-lit to the students;
- the teacher should speak at an average pace;
- the teacher should talk to the children with words, without any nods or gestures;
- the teacher should not gesture too much;
- it is important to make sure that the child catches your speech;
- the teacher should calmly take hearing impaired child’s difficulties;
- the teacher should use assistive materials and methods to make it easier to understand what was said [8: 53], E.g., write a word or phrase, repeat the whole phrase at a slower pace without the expressed articulation, replace a phrase or some word without changing the phrase’s meaning, write a phrase followed by simultaneous pronunciation.
Visually impaired. Visually impaired children differ from each other by sight, working ability, fatigability, and rapidity of material acquisition. This is largely due to ocular damage, vision loss origin and children’s personal characteristics.
As a rule, visually impaired children are characterized by hypervulnerability, resentment, proneness to conflict, tenseness, inability to understand peer’s emotional feelings and adequate self-expression. The behaviours of visually impaired children in most cases lack flexibility and spontaneity. Their non-verbal forms of communication are absent or poorly developed. Visually impaired children are not confident in the correctness and quality of work, which is expressed in a more frequent address to an adult for help, and turning the assessment into a verbal communicative plan. The games of such children are less developed than the games of ordinary children [8: 96].
Two types of material presentation can be distinguished in teaching visually impaired children: tactile and visual. When working with visually impaired learners, a number of recommendations can also be defined:
- it is important to plan the lesson so that the activities requiring eye strain do not last more than 10 to 20 minutes;
- it is important to keep in mind that writing and reading pace for a blind or visually impaired person is lower;
- the teacher should announce their each action, and the speech should be well-articulated;
- word activities are recommended to be carried out at each lesson, since verbalism is peculiar to many visually impaired students, which is explained by poor experience and a lack of certain ideas.
- along with other specialists, an English teacher teaches a hearing impaired student to use all their senses at each lesson.
Musculoskeletal disorders. The term “musculoskeletal disorders” is collective and includes movement disorders (cerebral palsy, malfunction or diamelia). Such a disorder is characterized by impaired coordination, motion pace, and height and strength restriction. They cause the impossibility or partial movement disorder of the musculoskeletal system in time and space [9: 22].
Children with cerebral palsy are also characterized by substandard performance, exhaustion of all mental functions, difficulties in switching, slow speech, difficulties in sound pronunciation (leading to indis- tinct/poor speech), difficulties in spatial inference, difficulties in subtractions, difficulties in writing with a pen/pencil, but they form the motor skill of typing on a computer faster [10: 18]. Such children can be impatient, bustling, irritable, and prone to unmotivated aggression. They are characterized by wild mood swings: they are either too cheerful, or suddenly start being capricious, seem to be tired and irritable [11: 43].
As a rule, learners with musculoskeletal disorder have no particular difficulties at the English lessons. They have a good memory and are able to use what they have learned correctly. The main challenge these children face is writing speed or working at a computer. A number of requirements should be followed:
- avoid students’ defatigation;
- use methods of motivating a child to learn;
- assess oral answers and written work taking into account child’s physical and mental peculiarities;
- create situations of success, provide seasonable assistance to each child, develop confidence in their own abilities.
Autism spectrum disorders. All autism spectrum children have disorders of communication and social skills development. Affective problems and difficulties in developing active relationships with a dynamically changing environment, which define their attitudes towards maintaining constancy and the stereotyped nature of their own behaviour are specific for them [9: 34]. Autism spectrum children are very often sensitive to emergent features. For example, they often cannot stand the ticking of a clock, the noise of household appliances, and water dropping. They behave monotonously with a tendency to stereotypical and primitive movements, e.g., body-rocking, head-shaking, toe-bouncing, etc. [9: 38].
The curriculum for learners with autism spectrum disorders will need to be adapted to their needs in social interaction, communication and behavior. The following techniques are recommended for teaching English to the ASD children:
- talk about what is interesting to them. At the beginning of a new lexical topic, you can build a connection between the new topic and what the learner likes;
- implement visual aids principle at all stages of the lesson: from everyday instructions (hand motions, visual cue demonstration) to the introduction of new lexical and grammar material;
- keep language constancy: the ASD students fail at catching the differences. Therefore it is necessary to state the instructions during the lesson, to explain grammar material with the same phrases so as not to confuse them, to memorize phrases and colloquial cliches.
Mental retardation. The mental retardation children’s attention is characterized by instability, i.e., there are periodic motions, as well as uneven performance. It has been established that many children experience difficulties in perception (visual, auditory, tactile). The memory of mental retardation children is also distinguished by its qualitative diversity. Inaccurate reproduction and rapid loss of information are characteristic for them. Their verbal memory suffers the most.
Mental retardation learners have significant uniqueness of their mental activity. The retardation is already seen at the level of visual thinking, i.e., difficulties arise in the formation of image-representations. Researchers place emphasis on the difficulty of creating the whole from parts and separating parts from the whole, as well as difficulties in image perception [12:180].
The adaptation of learning material to mental retardation students’ cognition involves studied material detailing: division into small parts, gradual complication, and easing of difficult tasks:
- pose additional leading questions;
- use visuals similar to those used for teaching ASD children;
- a teacher or a learner should draw up step-by-step instructions for completing or solving certain tasks;
- give examples for solving tasks;
- check assignment completion stepwise.
The teacher may offer a student to use other methods allowing students to be involved in educational process without experiencing more difficulties than other participants.
Students who have difficulties with socio environmental adaptation. This category includes students with deviant behavior, with a low social-economic and social-psychological status. It is possible to define deviant behavior as an independent microsocial-psychological phenomenon only if there is no borderline mental disorder, otherwise deviation should be regarded as a pathology phenomenon. However, deviation includes personal behaviour and non-pathological deviations. These mainly include such forms as psychological constitutions of puberty age, age related non-pathological situation-personal reactions, character traits (accentuations), as well as social and pedagogical neglect.
Non-native speaker learners. This group of students with special educational needs includes children from migrants’ families, repatriates, and refugees. In addition to Kazakhstan, the problem of repatriation is relevant for Israel, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Latvia, Armenia, and Russia.
The main problem faced by repatriates in a new residential country is a lack of knowledge of instruction language  or knowledge of its dialect form, which, along with cultural unfamiliarity, unavailability of learning a foreign language in primary school, hampers the whole learning process [14: 15]. In conditions of trilingualism the repatriate student is forced to learn two or three languages simultaneously at foreign language lessons. It is applicable to Kazakh, English and Russian in Kazakhstani schools. For a repatriate in Kazakhstan, the literary Kazakh language may be relatively familiar, whereas Russian and English may be foreign.
It should be emphasised that repatriates in Kazakhstan have a relatively different status, compared to emigrants, and their adaptation in their historical homeland goes by in a somewhat different way. Knowledge of language and culture furthers this process, whereas long-term diaspora isolation hampers it [15: 28].
Homeschoolers. Homeschooling is generally provided for students with disabilities. In addition to general recommendations, the teacher should also apply methods and techniques to suit students in the classroom.
Taking into account special needs children’s psychophysiological characteristics, the instructional guidelines suggest adhering to the following principles:
- providing mobile activities for children;
- frequent change of activity;
- language immersion;
- frequent listening of structures introduced;
- material continuity and constant review;
- child’s general development through a foreign language, as well as their self-actualization. The scientists, social educators, child psychologists, and subject teachers who teach children at home argue that a long-term schooling leads to their isolation from society, deprivation, the formation of child’s pathological isolation, unwillingness and fear of communicating with other people [16: 45].
Learners living in settlements with no schools. Teaching children living in settlements with no schools is provided either with transportation, or a boarding school accommodation, or remote schooling. Such students may have some pedagogical neglect, as well as a low interest in learning.
They are taught in the same way as their normal or disabled peers.
Talented and gifted learners. Over the hundred-year history devoted to studying giftedness, many theories and concepts have been developed in psychology and pedagogy. However, teaching talented and gifted children is the most controversial so far. The current situation is clearly characterised by the lack of a general theory of giftedness based on trustworthy and true scientific and practical results, which leads to the availability of a wide range of viewpoints, often contradicting each other.
Psychological and pedagogical features of talented and gifted students are characterised by the following:
- ) availability of specific activity strategies, i.e., rapid activity development and high success in its implementation; development of new ways to solve tasks; putting forward new goals of activity leading to a new perspective and impromptu ideas; going beyond the requirements, innovation, development of new techniques and patterns;
- ) formation of a personal unique style of activity, expressed in tendency to do everything in their own way;
- ) a special type of knowledge organization, i.e., high structuring, the ability to see the studied subject in various relations; the collapse of knowledge in a certain area, with readiness to deploy at the right time to find the necessary solution, etc.;
- ) a peculiar type of learning, i.e., learning pace and ease, and sometimes a slower learning pace, but with a subsequent change in the knowledge structuring; ability to self-study, etc. [9: 94].
It should be noted that all currently existing model curricula do not include any recommendations on the attempted hours for talented and gifted students. However, in our opinion, their teaching needs increasing hours not to feel bored at the lesson.
Teaching the talented and gifted should differ from teaching normally developing students. However, based on the above, we can conclude that the school curriculum for other special needs students also requires adaptation to student’s individual needs, i.e., it should have a qualitative change.
The gifted children easily learn new material, are active, differ by a creative approach, and a desire for self-directed research. We can define the following forms among the gifted children teaching strategies: acceleration, enrichment or deepening, and problematisation.
Acceleration is the change in learning pace. The enrichment of teaching English is achieved by using such well-known methods as research, partially searching, problem, and project. The problematisation strategy is a self-directed search for problem solution.
At the English lessons, it is advisable to use creative tasks for gifted children, which include role plays, design and research activities, discussions, fiction reading, text abstracting, writing essays, working with video materials, drawing up chainwords, crossword, pictorial puzzle, authentic lyrics, etc.
At the same time, the talented and gifted students’ tests or summative assessment assignments may be delivered with advanced tasks, or by applying the knowledge which such students get outside the classroom.
The following techniques are also acceptable: modification, i.e., answering on the computer, not orally; replacement, i.e., braille for written materials; exclusion, for example, exclusion of very difficult tasks; compensation, i.e., for example, inclusion of self-service skills training in the curriculum, or the professional skills development [17: 11].
As a modification, students with special educational needs can be offered the following techniques for knowledge mastering and testing:
- permission to use ear muffs during test and summative assessment work;
- when doing listening, give printed test or text to those children who have difficulty listening;
- use assistive technologies (podiums, interactive whiteboards, computers, etc.);
- use graphic organizers to present information;
- repeat written instructions aloud;
- allow students to pass not the whole test but its certain tasks. If the learners have time left, they can try answering the questions that were difficult for them;
- divide parts of a large project into smaller tasks;
- use teacher notes or short term lesson plan, consistent information, visuals, and various tests, etc. [9: 30].
Each learner with special educational needs requires a student-centered approach, taking into account the lesson time restriction. When planning a long- and short-term lesson, the teacher should know the student’s psychological and pedagogical peculiarities, as well as define the size of educational material, and select teaching methods and techniques.
This approach requires the adaptation of model plans for a quality education of students with special education needs. In addition, a number of standardized recommendations can be identified to ease mastering learning material both by students with disabilities and those with special educational needs when teaching English in an inclusive classroom:
- use of visual aids principle;
- organizational activities promoting children’s psychological and physiological development: perception, speech and communication, thinking, memory, emotions, motivation, etc.;
- bite-sized introduction and progressing of material;
- use of information and communication technologies at the lesson;
- a friendly attitude of a teacher towards all students;
- ensure continuity and material’s repeated spiral review;
- provide children with mobile activities;
- frequent activity change and observation of if children are not feeling tired;
- language immersion;
- frequent listening of structures introduced;
- child’s general development through a foreign language, as well as development of their creativity.
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