Learners with Special Needs

Thonis, Eleanor
February 1991
Reading Today;Feb/Mar91, Vol. 8 Issue 4, p34
This article offers tips on assessing the language performance of students. It is never easy to assess verbal functioning. Consider the diversity of languages and the individual response characteristics of language performance. Much language activity is not directly observable. What is demonstrated in a test represents only a small sample of an individual's total language ability. In language assessment, distinctions are not always made between oral and written language, between first and second language learning, between informal and formal usage, and between social and academic purposes. Traditionally, language assessment in the U.S. has meant appraising reading, spelling, punctuation, and English grammar. Occasionally, for students with special difficulties, assessment has covered articulation errors, delays in vocabulary development, disorders of syntax, and other problems. Knowledge of student's oral and written language skills is vital in planning appropriate instruction. With such an awareness, teachers can adjust the choice of vocabulary items, the length of sentences, the complexities of syntactical patterns, and the concept burdens carried by language.


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