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Worlds Apart?

Worlds Apart?: Disability and Foreign Language Learning

Foreword by SANDER L. GILMAN
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Worlds Apart?
    Book Description:

    Today's foreign language teachers are increasingly expected to be skilled in addressing multiple intelligences and differing learning styles, yet no reliable resources exist that consolidate the best of what is known about the broad spectrum of disabilities that are already or soon to be in our classrooms.

    The first of its kind,Worlds Apart? Disability and Foreign Language Learningoffers critical and practical essays with insights applicable across the language-teaching spectrum. Written in English,Worlds Apart?brings together scholars and teachers from around the world who examine foreign language education from general requirements through advanced literature and film courses to study abroad, showing how to enable the success of students with disabilities at every step of the way. Thought-provoking chapters explore the nature of language itself, the best avenues toward acquiring proficiency, and the lives of disabled people at home and abroad.Worlds Apart? Disability and Foreign Language Learningoffers fresh, new perspectives on the inquiries into culture and diversity undertaken in the academy today.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14499-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Sander L. Gilman

    Who is different? Well, in real terms, everyone. Who is seen as different? Now that is a very different question. Norms in society are always compromises between perceived extremes. In the world of Disability Studies, where such compromises are studied, they are revealed to be fluid and dynamic. They reflect changing assumptions about physical and mental difference in the culture(s) in which they arise. Scholars of Disability Studies deal with representations of difference as well as with the very mechanisms of perception and articulation that make such representations possible. In other words, images of difference are generated and studied through...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Bridging Worlds Apart: Disability and Foreign Languages Where We Live and Learn
    (pp. 1-20)

    You know, it never occurred to me: eight handicapped parking spaces right next to a flight of ten steps to get into the ground floor, where—get this—there’s an elevator! My German class was in the same building, so I used to see her working her way up those stairs all the time.

    You think that’s bad? I saw this guy in a wheelchair one time, just waiting around. He said somebody had parked in that blank aisle next to his van and he couldn’t lower the ramp to get back in. Said sometimes all the spots are taken...

  6. Teaching and Curricular Design

    • CHAPTER 2 Teaching German to Students Who Are Blind: A Personal Essay on the Process of Inclusion
      (pp. 23-41)

      I am an American teacher of German, and I am not (yet) blind. I find deep purpose and pleasure in teaching German, and I hope never to lose sight of why I chose this path in life. My colleagues will likely share many of my views: we teach and learn foreign language so that we may see more clearly how others live. We show students how to look closely at language and to see it as one of the building blocks of culture. We observe other societies and picture ourselves traveling in other lands. We recognize similarities and reflect upon...

    • CHAPTER 3 Everybody Wins: Teaching Deaf and Hearing Students Together
      (pp. 42-69)

      Teaching disabled students is an opportunity that most American professors have not yet had, but the chance that they will in the future is increasing. This chapter addresses the professor of foreign language who has a deaf student in her course for the first time, and who seeks help in teaching that student effectively. The tableau envisages a single deaf student in a first-year Latin class, but the didactic principles described here can apply to situations of more than one student, to different languages, and to courses beyond the first year. The student may or may not have studied foreign...

    • CHAPTER 4 Making a Difference: Evaluating, Modifying, and Creating Inclusive Foreign Language Activities
      (pp. 70-92)

      Alexandra’s metaphor of the backscratcher as a tool to help reach an itch is a powerful reminder that we as foreign language teachers must provide learning tools for students with learning disabilities to enable them to process material that would otherwise remain inaccessible to them. Alexandra’s journal entry allowed her to reflect upon the ways in which her knowledge, techniques, and philosophy of teaching facilitate successful experiences for students with learning disabilities. This chapter describes the outcome of a teaching methods program entitled “Technology for the Twenty-first Century,” held at Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 2002. During...

    • CHAPTER 5 ASL: The Little Language That Could
      (pp. 93-106)

      Once upon a time, and not so very long ago, American Sign Language (ASL) was barely known to the Modern Language Association (MLA), an organization of more than three hundred thousand members in one hundred countries whose “members have worked to strengthen the study and teaching of language and literature.”¹ Until 1997, in fact, ASL was listed in the definitiveMLA International Bibliographyonly under “invented” languages—followed directly by the Klingon language ofStar Trekfame. In 1997, the MLA formed the Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession (CDI). Spurred on by some members of the MLA’s newly...

    • CHAPTER 6 Teaching Foreign Languages to Students with Disabilities: Initiatives to Educate Faculty
      (pp. 107-134)

      According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. colleges and universities receiving public funding are legally bound to provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Foreign language faculty members at institutions of higher education across the United States are often at a loss about how to accommodate the various needs of these students—and sometimes question whether it is even possible for some students to learn a foreign language.

      Are there discipline-specific issues involved when teaching a foreign language to students with disabilities? Is teaching a foreign language different from teaching a subject...

  7. Technology

    • CHAPTER 7 Incorporating Foreign Sign Language in Foreign Language Instruction for Deaf Students: Cultural and Methodological Rationale
      (pp. 137-150)

      This chapter discusses the methodological advantages of incorporating foreign sign language into the instruction of written foreign languages for Deaf students.¹ The case study is a Spanish reading program for beginners, specifically designed for American Deaf students, which combines written Spanish and Costa Rican Sign Language through the use of video and caption technology. The program consists of a video containing ten Costa Rican legends narrated in Costa Rican Sign Language (Lengua de Señas de Costa Rica, or LESCO) and captioned in Spanish. The videotape is coordinated with a booklet containing written Spanish versions of the same stories that appear...

    • CHAPTER 8 In Dialogue with Michelle N. Abadia: My Life Journey Studying and Teaching with Adaptive Technology
      (pp. 151-163)

      EH: Professor Abadia, you refer to your experiences with adaptive technology as a “life journey.” How did the journey begin?

      MA: I was always taught to rise above any obstacle that stood in my way, to respect myself, to stand up for my rights and for what I believed in. I was taught to persevere, to try as hard as I could to achieve my goals, regardless of any prospect of failure. Basically, I was taught to be fearless. However, I have a confession to make: I have always been afraid of computers, electronic gadgets, any computerized system that would...

    • CHAPTER 9 New Technologies and Universal Design for Learning in the Foreign Language Classroom
      (pp. 164-178)

      As Professor Garcia prepares for her Spanish language class of twenty students, she faces the same significant challenge that nearly all her colleagues do: how to teach effectively a diverse group of learners with wide variations in background knowledge, literacy skills, academic preparation, and, in some cases, physical or sensory ability. William is hard of hearing and sometimes finds it difficult to follow classroom discussions. Jacqui excels in most subjects but not in Spanish: she hates memorizing vocabulary and does not see how the foreign language requirement is relevant to her major in biology. Cheryl has dyslexia, making it hard...

  8. Disabilities Abroad

    • CHAPTER 10 Cédez le passage: A Chronicle of Traveling in France with a Disability
      (pp. 181-201)

      Traveling to a country where one is not proficient in the language is a daunting experience. This is particularly challenging for students who may not have traveled before and may not know what to expect of a foreign culture. The extensive literature dedicated to study abroad emphasizes that false expectations or fears about other countries are the primary barriers to studying abroad.¹ Until arriving in a foreign country, even those students who do choose to travel tend to be preoccupied by immediate needs, such as food, shelter, and communicating in the foreign language.²

      Studying abroad with a disability presents the...

    • CHAPTER 11 Awaiting a World Experience No Longer: It’s Time for All Students with Disabilities to Go Overseas
      (pp. 202-218)

      As the world becomes more connected through globalization, studying abroad and learning a foreign language are acknowledged as integral parts of a university education. More workplaces are becoming diverse or multinational, and employers are looking for people who demonstrate ease with intercultural communication, strong adaptation skills learned from living in other cultures, and fluency in other languages. Employers consider interpersonal skills the top qualification when hiring, and when questioned they believe that these skills are likely to be strong in a candidate who has had an overseas educational experience.¹

      For many of today’s students with disabilities, a postsecondary education is...

    • CHAPTER 12 Dis/Abling the Narrative: The Case of Tombéza
      (pp. 219-231)

      It was with much dignity and considerable courage that the writer Rachid Mimouni labored fiercely for years to paint a grim picture of a mutilated society. It is no secret that he battled with ill health and fear until he died of cancer of the liver in Tangier in 1995. One may attribute his success as a writer at least in part to that same ill health, what Edward Said aptly called “illness as narrative.” All of this struggle, however, should not be allowed to detract from his position as perhaps the most authentic voice that was determined to tell...

    • CHAPTER 13 No One’s Perfect: Disability and Difference in Japan
      (pp. 232-252)

      “Disability has nothing to do with it” is the line with which Ototake Hirotada concludes his immensely popular autobiography,Gotai Fumanzoku, translated into English asNo One’s Perfect.¹ Ototake, born without arms or legs, chronicles his youth (he writes at the age of twenty-two) with humor and gusto to convey the central message that disability has nothing to do with it: it will not automatically prevent you from living a happy life. His is the story of a regular Japanese kid, going to school, learningkanji(Chinese ideographs), making friends, joining clubs, and worrying about getting into college. The fact...

  9. Abbreviations
    (pp. 253-254)
  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 255-258)
  11. Index
    (pp. 259-268)