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Language Therapy Space

Teaching English as a Foreign Language to the Visually Impaired

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Beata Wyszyńska

Language can be seen as a therapeutic tool to the visually impaired. The author explores the psycho-linguistic therapy «Touching the World» which is rooted within two areas. The mental one pivots on emotional openness and balance, gained through the sandtray therapy, controlled breathing practice, the Brain Linkage Method, and the edu-kinaesthetic area. The linguistic layer offers a two-pathed differentiation. Lexical and grammar fields are taught through the Re-charged Direct Method, enriched with sand and water experiments, based on tactile-audible perception. The author’s suggestions to explore language as a therapy tool show how deeply the possibilities and discoveries are hidden in a language teaching-learning process.

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Introduction

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Teaching a language to visually impaired people involves complex challenges which may be effectively met by combining and synthesising knowledge from a broad range of fields.

Above all, blind students need to feel that the axis of their world is stable and reliable, and to accept it. The blind need the spur of a dynamic force that will elicit an active language response from them. Indeed, they need it more than other learners do because, for some of them at any rate, placidity is a millstone which anchors them comfortably in the backwaters of life, whereas what they need is to be encouraged to sail forth into life’s main current (Burklen, 1985).

As a teacher of English, I have been particularly attracted to matters concerning visual impairments in relation to teaching English as a foreign language. Such inspiration helped me create the method addressed to the visually handicapped – the Re-charged Direct Method within the psycho-linguistic therapy “Touching the World”. Following John Dewey’s theory (2007), that any educational process has two aspects – one psychological and one sociological – and that of these two, the psychological is deeper, I could not imagine teaching English without the psychological context. In my view, without insight into the psychological structure and activities of the individual, the educative process will be haphazard and arbitrary.

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