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Define the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach in your own words. How does it benefit English learners? ?

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    I presume you are talking about the United States? UDL supposedly increases access to different learning resources and styles. In the case of ELLs, this could be helpful, but only if they get off to a good start with proper assessment and support, which is far from guaranteed. 

    As a bilingual teacher, I was sometimes assigned to do English language testing on immigrant kindergartners. I noticed that most of the kids were scared to death of what they knew very well would be high-stakes testing with an unfamiliar adult. 

    I tried having a low-key, friendly warm-up conversation with them for five minutes in their native language [Spanish] before testing. It relaxed them enough that they were usually able to do well on the English assessment just with the limited English they had picked up from their classmates and the neighborhood kids outside of school. So they got to stay in the kindergarten where they had already made friends.

    If they had been given the test cold, their natural shyness [also called an affective filter] would likely have produced no response at all and consigned them to special education classes as completely English-ignorant and probably learning-disabled. Instead they came to my bilingual classroom the following year and were English-proficient by the end of first grade. By learning math, science and social studies in their native language, they were also up to speed on curriculum content. 

    So I am VERY skeptical about a system that claims to help all kids but depends on how efficiently [and kindly!] the methodology is put to use by individual teachers, schools, districts, and states.

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