Teaching English to mentally retarded children as a foreign language is much more complicated than teaching to normal learners and requires special techniques and methods that we will discuss in this article.

Can't mentally retarded children learn languages?

This view is not correct. Learning English gives many students with intellectual disabilities opportunities to learn important skills such as listening, interacting with others, paying attention to things about others, understanding social language, and expressing opinions. These are skills that are often practiced in English language learning activities that can be done in a fun way with patience. Reading and writing stories can give learners opportunities to explore issues in a safe and creative way. Learning English in this way can give students a different experience.


Bilingualism of mentally retarded children

Knowing a second language is undoubtedly a high priority in our current world. When it comes to teaching English to mentally retarded children, the situation becomes difficult. It is clear that they suffer from several mental disorders, one of which is language impairment. Mental retardation refers to average general mental performance, which is related to the disorder in the process of mental development.

Many studies have been conducted to investigate the learning ability of mentally retarded people and how they can learn their mother tongue in general. Also, for teaching English to mentally retarded children, it has been found in many studies that mother tongue abilities significantly affect children's potential to learn a second language. However, there are many positive reports about successful foreign language learning by people with intellectual disabilities despite their difficulties in learning the first language. In research conducted on bilingualism in mentally retarded children, they were able to learn and develop a certain level of English. Also, children with mental disabilities who grew up with bilingual parents can also benefit from bilingualism.

By observing many disabled children who are able to speak and understand more than one language, it seems that learning a foreign language is beyond the ability of children with mental disabilities. Studies show that even if a child has an intellectual disability, he can learn this language professionally. The research data shows that these children are able to acquire certain foreign language skills, but this competence also depends on the way teachers teach, and both play a decisive role in the foreign language learning process.


The effect of affection on teaching English to mentally retarded children

Exaggerated affection and care for mentally retarded learners can focus their attention and motivate them at the same time. In addition, it can increase their self-confidence and learning. Also, language learning can be a positive activity in their life that improves their lifestyle.


Some tips for teaching English to mentally retarded children

1. See the learner and know his characteristics. Learners are people with different personalities. The learner may be introverted, extroverted, creative or non-creative, humorous or non-humorous, musical or non-musical, etc.


2. Use activities that build empathy and understanding at all times. For example, many activities involve guessing or remembering something. This type of language activity can be used more.


3. Specify ethical rules for language learning. For example, set rules that clearly state the core values of the classroom. Rules like: we help each other, we listen to each other and we know that everyone is unique.


4. Give learners the opportunity to practice the language in different ways.


5. Create a peer support system where learners help each other to share their skills.


6. Think carefully about how to deliver English instruction. Express them clearly and concisely. Provide step-by-step instructions. Do them in the order you want and present them very simply to the children.


7. Use positive language. Be clear about what you want learners to do, not what you don't want them to do.


8. Use pictures to reinforce rules and routines. Use a series of images that illustrate different parts of the lesson. For example, to teach concepts such as: listening (earphone image), speaking (oral image), writing (pen image), reading (book image).



Despite many negative attitudes and statements, people with mental disabilities are able to learn English as a foreign language, given the right conditions and acquiring the right methods. Also, showing affection and being patient while teaching English to mentally retarded children improves the result of education. This actually emphasizes the vitality and positive behavior of the teacher during teaching. Especially when dealing with low intellectual ability learners.