Supporting EAL Students with Learning Disabilities: An Exploration Through Self- Evaluation of the Ability of Teachers to Organically Implement Targeted Learning Strategy Supports into the General Classroom
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Lopez Valerio, Joanne L.
Mount Saint Vincent University
Literature reveals that supporting English as additional language students is complex on its own. However, there is a sub-population, English as an additional language students with learning disabilities, that can slip through the cracks. The co-existence of the language challenges and the neurological challenges in this population make supporting this population a unique challenge. This thesis is based on qualitative research and aimed to investigate how teachers perceive their ability to naturally apply learning strategies to assist students with special needs in regular classrooms. A total of 6 teacher participants took part in this qualitative research project and explored their participation in three self-reflective questionnaires and one online training. Through a reflexive thematic analysis, the research yielded 4 culminating themes that impact the participants’ potential ability to support English as additional language students with learning disabilities through targeted learning strategies in the general education classroom. The study found that the problem of not having enough time, freedom and expectations in the profession of teaching, teachers’ own personal and professional capabilities, and their beliefs regarding the general educator’s role in supporting these students are the greatest commonalities impacting teachers’ ability to use specific learning strategies to support English as an additional language students with learning disabilities in the general education classroom. In conclusion, the researcher identified that while 6 participants might not be ideal, the diversity of the 6 participants lends to an intriguing picture of internal and external variables that might ultimately be affecting many teachers’ ability to support this unique population in the general education classroom.