Gifted Visually Impaired Children Learning Foreign Languages

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Abstract

Giftedness and visual impairment may seem to be the concepts standing in opposition. The former is considered positive exceptionality while the latter refers to some form of disability. However, regardless of a disability, giftedness is a unique characteristic that may appear in every individual. There is an agreement among the researchers that there is a genetic factor that determines giftedness (Begley 2003). Yet, it has not been discovered to what extent the factor may be modified and how important it is (Recent research has identified at least five genes that occur more frequently in people with high IQ score, however, it is still not known how these genes affect performance (Begley 2003)). An impact of environment has not been completely rejected and there is an ongoing debate on the superiority of nurture over nature The child’s early pre-school experiences may make the difference between ‘bright/talented’ and ‘gifted’, regardless the child’s disability. A visual impairment is undoubtedly a factor that needs to be considered while comparing the ability development of sighted and blind children. Thus, the application of the same framework for giftedness comparison analysis cannot be put in place. There is a need to work out a separate framework for visually impaired children learning foreign languages who follow a different path to ability mastery. The paper discusses giftedness as a single exceptionality, its perception by foreign language classroom teachers and a distinction between giftedness and talent. Then it explores the combined characteristics of visual impairment and giftedness, gives the screening checklist for measuring linguistic giftedness in visually impaired learners. It closes with the recommendations for foreign language teachers on nurturing environment that should value individual differences.