Thursday, October 17, 2013

Foreign Language Waivers for High School and College

Many individuals with learning disabilities experience difficulty learning a foreign language. Learning disabilities (LD) adversely affect language-based tasks such as reading, spelling, writing, or listening in the person’s native language. Such problems tend to be magnified even further in the process of learning a foreign language.

Phonological difficulties (problems with tasks involving putting sounds together and pulling sounds apart in spoken & written language) and orthographic difficulties (problems with sound-symbol tasks in language) have the most immediate and severe impact on foreign language learning. These types of abilities are necessary for the fundamental task of learning a new alphabet, such as Hebrew, or a new sound-symbol system, such as spelling the nasal sounds in French.

Individuals who experienced delays in learning to speak, required speech therapy, had difficulty learning to read (especially phonics), struggle with spelling and demonstrate inconsistent use of grammar and/or writing mechanics, often have serious difficulty learning a foreign language.

At the same time, an increasing number of individuals with learning disabilities are attending college. Supports and services vary widely, however, ranging from basic classroom and testing accommodations, to special sections of a foreign language, to foreign language waivers, to course substitutions.

Although federal law requires colleges and universities to provide reasonable accommodations for students who have documented learning disabilities, the range of accommodations and modifications is generally determined by each school, college or university.

On August 15, 1997, the US District Court issued its decision in the case of Guckenberger vs. Boston University (C.A. No, 96-11426-PBS). In part, the ruling held that if a foreign language requirement is not part of the fundamental nature of the student's program, than students with requisite documentation of specific learning disabilities should be able to substitute another course for the foreign language. 

Testing for learning disabilities to determine eligibility for a foreign language waiver may include but not be limited to the following:

  • Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT) 
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) 
  • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-Third Edition (WIAT-III) 
  • Woodcock-Johnson/Third Edition (W-J/III) 
  • Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP) 
  • Test of Orthographic Competence (TOC) 
  • Jordan Reversal Test - 3rd Edition
To schedule your foreign language waiver evaluation, call 717-569-6223

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