Gifted Visually Impaired Children Learning Foreign Languages

Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


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.


  1. Begley, S. 2003. Light cast on darkling gene. Discover 8: 85–96.Google Scholar
  2. Bishop, V. 2004. Teaching visually impaired children. Springfield: Charles Thomas Publisher Ltd.Google Scholar
  3. Borkowski, J.G. 1996. Metacognition: Theory or chapter heading? Learning and Individual Differences 8: 391–402.Google Scholar
  4. Carter, K.R. 1985. Cognitive development of intellectually gifted: A Piagetian perspective. Roeper Review 7: 180–184.Google Scholar
  5. Corn, A. 1986. Gifted students who have a visual handicap: Can we meet their educational needs? Education of the Visually Handicapped 18: 71–84.Google Scholar
  6. Fetzer, E.A. 2000. The gifted/learning disabled child: A guide for teachers and parents. Gifted Child Today 23: 44–53.Google Scholar
  7. Gardner, H. 1993. Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  8. Goleman, D. 1995. Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  9. Hix, B.O. 1990. The relationship between the conservation response and giftedness in first grade children. An educational field problem research project report. Unpublished masters thesis, Mercer university. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 3222689.Google Scholar
  10. Johnsen, S. 1986. Who are the gifted? A dilemma in search of a solution. Education of the Visually Handicapped 18: 54–70.Google Scholar
  11. Johnsen, S., and A. Corn. 1989. The past, present, and future of education for gifted children with sensory and/or physical disabilities. Roeper Review 12: 13–23.Google Scholar
  12. Johnson, L. 1987. Teaching the visually impaired gifted youngster. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness 81: 51–52.Google Scholar
  13. Kay, K., ed. 2000. Uniquely gifted: Identifying and meeting the needs of the twice exceptional student. NH: Avocus Publishing Inc.Google Scholar
  14. Lempersm, J., L. Block, M. Scott, and D. Draper. 1987. The relationship between psychometric brightness and cognitive development precocity in gifted preschoolers. Merrill Palmer Quarterly 38: 489–503.Google Scholar
  15. Marland, S. 1972. Education and the gifted and talented. Washington: Commission.Google Scholar
  16. Munro, J. 2000. Understanding and identifying gifted learning disabled students. Defininggiftedness.pdf.
  17. Munro, J. 2002. How gifted students learn: Mapping research into effective teaching. Article available online.
  18. Renzulli, J.S. 1986. The three-ring conception of giftedness: A developmental model for creative productivity. In eds. R.J. Sternberg, and J.E. Davidson, 53–92.Google Scholar
  19. Sternberg, R.J., and J.E. Davidson, eds. 1986. Conceptions of giftedness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institue of English StudiesUniversity of WrocławWrocławPoland

Personalised recommendations