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Выпуск: №8 (71) сентябрь 2016  Рубрика: Педагогические науки"

Обучение английскому язку слепых и слабовидящих обучающихся

Т.С. Макарова, канд. пед. наук, доцент,
М.А. Молчанова, канд. филол. наук, доцент,
Е.А. Морозова, канд. пед. наук, доцент,
кафедра англистики и межкультурной коммуникации,
Институт иностранных языков,
Московский государственный педагогический университет,
П.А. Степичев, канд. пед. наук, доцент,
кафедра английской филологии,
Российский государсвтенный социальный университет,
г. Москва, Россия
, , ,
Статья посвящена исследованию эффективных способов обучения английскому языку слепых и слабовидящих обучающихся. Наиболее эффективным для них является подход, когда материал дается четко, эксплицитно, хорошо структурированным, задействуются разные органы чувств и при этом обеспечиваются широкие возможности для практики. В статье описаны основные особенности обучения детей с отклонениями в зрительном восприятии. В частности, говорится о важности опоры на кинестетическое и слуховое восприятие при обучении. В статье обозначены и описаны разнообразные тактильные средства обучения. Тактильные книги широко используются учителями английского языка для обучения грамматике и лексике. Каждая страница содержит изображение объекта, выполненное из специальной рельефной бумаги, и наименование этого объекта крупным шрифтом и шрифтом Брайля. Объекты повседневного обихода могут быть использованы, чтобы обеспечить приобретение обучающимися с нарушениями зрения собственного опыта. Модели применяются, чтобы представить сложные грамматические структуры в привлекательной и доступной форме. Например, запатентованная модель «ГрамИК» может быть использована для обучения грамматике, в частности, простым временам, повелительному наклонению, модальным глаголам в интуитивно понятной форме, ориентированной на кинестетическое восприятие. Статья вносит свой вклад в проект «Обучение английскому слепых и слабовидящих обучающихся в России», запущенный группой региональных ассоциаций учителей английского языка (инициирован Ассоциацией учителей английского языка Коми) и поддержанный офисом английского языка в Москве.
Ключевые слова: слепые и слабовидящие обучающиеся, мультисенсорный подход, тактильные средства обучения, тактильные книги, шрифт Брайля, «ГрамИК», тактильная графика, тактильные изображения

It can hardly be debated that the English language nowadays is an essential part of a skillset for any adult, facilitating his or her career chances and providing spiritual, recreational and cultural opportunities beyond boundaries. A learner today may use a great number of courses, textbooks and materials but this variety is pretty much limited if we speak of blind and visually impaired students which create the situation of not equal access to education. Olga Minina, Elena Lubnina and Nafi sa Keels in their article describe the project “Teaching English to Blind and Visually Impaired Students in Russia” which focuses on developing and describing methods of teaching BVI students due to their psychological and cognitive peculiarities, identifying online resources and making an internet guide for teachers, parents and BVI students, collecting didactic materials for teaching BVI English1. Our article aims to contribute more ideas and practices to this project.

Learning disabilities affect the way individuals access foreign languages as different types of learning disabilities impact their verbal, spelling or organizational skills, among others. Students with learning disabilities may excel at different subjects but in case with a second language acquisition their diffi culties may emerge signifi cantly. Nevertheless a foreign language teacher should hold the same educational standards for learners with disabilities as he would have for other students as lowering expectations does not serve impaired students. The question is how to provide impaired learners with equal access to education and development. Language learning does not only cover grammatical structure and spelling, but it is also a communication tool responding to new infl uences and developments continuously2.

Teaching a foreign language to impaired students is an area which has not yet received due attention. Consequently, there is little theoretical background on this specifi c problem. As a result teaching and learning a foreign language present a dual challenge to both teachers and impaired students.

Research shows that learners with impaired skills benefi t from a highly structured, multisensory, direct and explicit approach which provides them with ample opportunities to practice. This approach allows to adjust teaching methods to the individual needs of learners with disabilities: deaf and hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired, etc.3

With regard to blind and visually impaired students it is important to use kinesthetic, auditory and visual modalities in instruction. Blind and visually impaired students have excellent visualization and listening skills, memory, the ability to comprehend how the language develops in more physical terms than a sighted student. The learning process is signifi cantly enhanced when blind and visually impaired students visualize something new by means of a physical object rather than by a good auditory commentary. All these modalities ensure a multisensory approach that offers visually impaired students the best opportunity to learn a foreign language4.

Developing the sense of touch is a must in teaching EFL to BVI learners. Tactile teaching / learning tools are an integral part of the process of educating BVI students studying in special schools as well as those integrated into mainstream education.

There is a wide range of tactile tools which an English teacher can employ in class to tailor teaching to BVI students’ individual needs. The most available are real objects which are generally used for teaching vocabulary (fruit, vegetables, toys, clothes, pens, pieces of furniture in the classroom, etc.). The use of everyday objects ensures that BVI students are building on their own experience. An English teacher can also keep a scrap box of empty containers, bits of wire, plastic lids, etc., so they can provide visually impaired children with a ‘handson’ explanation of concepts conveyed graphically to sighted learners.

Plastic letters of the English alphabet and fi gures from zero to nine can be purchased or made of any handy material (modeling clay, plasticine, sandpaper, string, cord, etc.)

Tactile books are quite common in English classes; most of them have been made by teachers themselves or by students involved in the project “Teaching English to blind and visually impaired students” in Moscow City University (MCU), Syktyvkar State University, Udmurt State University, Ufa State Boarding School № 28 of III – IV types. Each page of a tactile book has an image of an object made of a special relief paper (rough, embossed, sandpaper, etc.), its name in large print and in Braille with a marked bottom of the page. Tactile books can be used for vocabulary purposes (animals, fruit and vegetables, clothes, fabrics, etc.) as well as for learning grammar, e.g. a tactile book on prepositions of place (on, in, above, under, below, between, at, by, near) has white pages, black squares, and yellow circles, each made of different kind of paper5.

Tactile graphics are necessary when translating visual graphics into tactile form. Swell paper is a special paper with black embossed areas which can be felt in relief against the fl at white background. Thermoform is a thin sheet of cream-colored plastic which was vacuumformed over a raised shape. Tactile graphics are mostly available abroad and require special technology to produce them.

Tactile diagrams/images are simplifi ed images ensuring access to information without over elaboration. There should be clear planning prior to production to ensure only relevant information is used.

Cuisenaire rods, small rectangular blocks of wood of different colors and lengths are a common teaching tool in foreign countries. Cuisenaire rods can be adapted for teaching BVI students: while the different lengths will still be present, they may be matched to different shapes (rectangular, cylindrical and pyramid), different surfaces (smooth and rough) or different materials (wooden, plastic, and metal)6.

One of the tactile tools used in the US schools to enhance learning experiences is Wikki Stix made of hand-knitting yarn. They have bright colors, can be bended, stuck to a surface and cut with scissors. They are used as a creative activity toy for children with visual limitations7.

Other tactile learning tools include models, sculptures, embossed pictures (raised line illustrations). When models are used, these should contain only essential details, be easily discernible tactually for Braille users and have clear color contrast for partially sighted students. It is advisable to simplify complicated information for visually impaired students.

Applying models can be an effective technique to teach BVI students grammar. A patented model “Grammar Cube” (ГрамИК) can be used to teach grammar, in particular Simple tenses, imperatives and modals in an intuitive kinesthetic way8. Each of the four cubes connected to each other is used to show one of the following categories: predicates (in the form of verbs), subjects (mainly presented by pronouns), auxiliary and modal verbs and question words. BVI Grammar Cube is developed with the help of funding from the American centre. It enables BVI students to literary touch grammar, creating phrases by rotating the cubes. The method can be used for all categories of students; it is important for inclusive education setting emerging today.

The most traditional tactile tool of universal use by BVI people is Braille. Grade 1 Braille is a system of representing each letter of the alphabet in embossed dots. Braille is a universal code but still there are variations in each particular language. Grade 2 Braille is a system of contractions and abbreviations representing common combinations of letters and even words. It is aimed at saving space and making reading and writing in Braille quicker9.

Time issues are to be taken into account when teaching in a BVI classroom. BVI students and their teachers should come to terms with time, as being aware that this category of students needs much more time in anything they do than fully sighted counterparts is crucial.


1. Minina O.G., Lubnina E.N., Keels N.R. Teaching English to blind and visually impaired students in Russia and the USA (in English). Mul’tikul’turnyi mir: problema ponimaniia: materialy Respublikanskoi nauchno-prakticheskoi mezhdunarodnoi konferentsii [Multicultural world: the problem of understanding: materials of the Republican sci.-pract. Inter. conf.]. Syktyvkar, 2012, pp. 163-166.
2. Makarova T.S. Narusheniia zreniia u obuchaiushchikhsia: k voprosu ob opredeleniiakh [Of vision impairment in students: the question of defi nitions]. Nauchnoe mnenie – Scientifi c opinion, 2016, no. 8–9, pp. 24-28.
3. Molchanova M.A. Obshchie osobennosti obucheniia detei s narusheniiami zreniia [General features of the education of children with visual impairments]. Nauchnoe mnenie – Scientifi c opinion, 2016, no. 8–9, pp. 64-67.
4. Morozova E.A. Narusheniia zreniia i slepota: effektivnye resheniia [Of visual impairment and blindness: an effective solution]. Nauchnoe mnenie – Scientifi c opinion, 2016, no. 8–9, pp. 68-72.
5. Teaching English to Blind and Visually Impaired Students. Available at: www.english4blind.ru/tactileteaching-materials.html (accessed 30.07.16)
6. Methodology of Teaching a Foreign Language to the Blind. Listen and Touch: a basic English course for the visually impaired. Socrates Lingua, 2002. 54 p.; Harmer J. The practice of English language teaching (third edition). Longman, 2001. 371 p.
7. Minina O.G., Lubnina E.N., Keels N.R. Teaching English to blind and visually impaired students in Russia and the USA (in English). Mul’tikul’turnyi mir: problema ponimaniia: materialy Respublikanskoi nauchno-prakticheskoi mezhdunarodnoi konferentsii [Multicultural world: the problem of understanding: materials of the Republican sci.-pract. Inter. conf.]. Syktyvkar, 2012, pp. 163-166.
8. Stepichev P.A. Model’ «GramIK» kak sredstvo obucheniia grammatike detei s narusheniiami zreniia [Model Gramick” as a means of teaching grammar to children with visual impairments]. Unikal’nye issledovaniia XXI veka – A unique study of the XXI century, 2015, no. 4 (4), pp. 71-73.
9. Makarova T.S. Narusheniia zreniia u obuchaiushchikhsia: k voprosu ob opredeleniiakh [Of vision impairment in students: the question of defi nitions]. Nauchnoe mnenie – Scientifi c opinion, 2016, no. 8–9, pp. 24-28.