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5 Tips for Teaching English to Special Needs Children

As many teachers will tell you, teaching special needs children is a tough but rewarding job. And being a special needs kid is even tougher. But at Speak English Kids we teach English in many different ways, taking into account the needs of each child. The advantage of teaching English is that it can be used in literally every way you can imagine, making it the ideal activity for any child during the school holidays, even kids who don’t do well in a traditional classroom environment or who have more serious special needs.

Some of the most common special needs that students could have include: poor auditory memory, poor self-esteem, easily distracted, easily confused, difficulty following instructions, difficulty working with others, coordination problems, poor reading or writing skills, poor concept of time, physical disabilities, behavioural issues, and more. These needs can be a real challenge to manage when it comes to a group of children learning English. So how do we do it?

Here are 5 methods we use to teach English to special needs children:

  • Close observation. Many children have issues that go undiagnosed, and they might have a special need that they don’t even know about. At Speak English Kids, we cautiously assume that is the case until we have had the time to get to know each child personally. Just being aware of things to watch for in their behaviour can make all the difference in making the child feel comfortable and safe—a very important part of learning.


  • Being flexible. Our teaching methods include all learning styles: visual, aural, physical, and verbal. All the senses are stimulated, and activities can be easily adapted to an individual’s needs or preferences. This way, whether it’s acting in a play, cooking, making a painting, listening to music, singing, looking at art, playing a game, or listening to a story, there is bound to be something that will inspire a child to learn English while staying within their comfort zone.


  • Being equipped. Many children suffer with issues like dyslexia and dyspraxia. “Technology can go a long way towards putting dyslexic children on a level playing field with others,” according to the website dyslexia-assist.org.uk. That’s one reason why Speak English Kids has computers that can be used for kids who would prefer a keyboard to a pen and paper, and special English learning programs that are made for kids.


  • Being patient. We also take into consideration children who are hyperactive or have behavioural difficulties. It’s important to react appropriately when a child is being problematic and disruptive, as the child may not even know that their behaviour is inappropriate. We explain why the behaviour is an issue and we remove a child from the group for a moment if necessary in order to maintain a positive learning environment for the rest of the group, and to give special attention to the child and help them calm down.


  • Personal attention. We have small groups, which allows for more personalised lessons, but also more personalised attention for each child. Groups that are too big can be intimidating and chaotic, which can pose a real problem for many children, but especially those with special needs.

The good news is that if you are hesitant about registering your child for an extra-curricular activity, English immersion lessons are the perfect solution. Don’t hesitate to contact us right away if you have any questions about our methods, if you’d like to visit the school, or find out how to get your child involved!


Do you have a special needs child?

Do you have any tips for teachers of special needs children?

We love to read your comments!

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