The Effects of Multisensory Learning on Second Language Acquisition for Students with Learning Disabilities
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Students with learning disabilities often struggle to meet the demands of the foreign language curriculum and complete the levels required for graduation at their school. The purpose of this study is to examine whether a multisensory approach is effective for teaching high school learning disabled students Spanish vocabulary. A small group (15) of students with documented learning disabilities at an all-male high school was presented with vocabulary in the target language over a 5-week period. A multisensory learning experience applied during Weeks 2 through 4 served as the independent variable using Quizlet vocabulary sets (images, audio and text). Short vocabulary weekly assessments ranging from 17 to 20 words served as the dependent variable. Anomalies in the results for Week 5 were presented that differed significantly from the other weeks. However, the null hypothesis for Weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4 was retained, with no significant difference in the results. A number of threats to validity such as the small number of students assessed, length of the study, practice activities, and vocabulary content are discussed. Although multisensory instruction can have a positive effect in language learning for students with learning disabilities, the impact was not statistically significant in this study. Further research in this area is needed to ensure that all students have the opportunity to be successful and have a positive experience when learning a second language.