• Michelle

    2 September 2022 at 23 h 47 min

    Hello and thank you for your question.

    All children, including children who might be considered at risk for academic difficulty or have disabilities, should be given the opportunity to participate fully in dual language programs or programs with enriched second language instruction. Students at risk or with disabilities are capable of acquiring dual language competence to the best of their ability. I often advocate for ALL students develop and maintain proficiency in their home language so that they don’t lose their ability to communicate with parents/family members (even if data shows they are limited in both languages to start), or become estranged from their culture/linguistic heritage. In the case you are presenting, it does not sound like your student has any type of language dominance in L1 or L2 if their language skills are extremely limited to very limited in both. In addition, it sounds like your student presents with developmental disabilities as well which further makes this a little more complicated to navigate.

    There are definitely benefits to bilingualism and dual language instructional programs for students, such as better acquisition of L2 (English) for students with strong home language skills for literacy and academic language. This does not seem to apply to your student, given their extremely limited to very limited language skills in L1 and L2. However, students with disabilities can thrive in dual language/bilingual learning environments and should not be automatically excluded from them because of a disability. Instead, I would recommend considering each student individually, based on the strengths and needs, and determine what additional supports can be provided to meet their needs in a dual language learning environment. You should also take into consideration whether appropriate additional supports are available in both languages. Things to think about also include whether the student lives in a bilingual family/community or monolingual family/community. The student in a bilingual environment would likely have a greater need to develop and maintain both languages so they can communicate with parents and family members. However, a bilingual program may not be appropriate for some students because they may be unable to manage two languages due to intellectual, attentional, or language processing needs (but again, this would be case specific based on the profile of the student’s strengths and weaknesses).

    I would work with parents and together decide if participation in dual language learning environment would be appropriate. At the very least, give the student time in the program to see how they progress and collect data to make additional decisions regarding programming and services.

    I hope this helps, but certainly reach out if you need to chat more!