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Improving Outcomes for Aboriginal Students: Data-Driven Intervention Strategies

Improving Outcomes for Aboriginal Students: Data-Driven Intervention Strategies

As a practitioner dedicated to improving educational outcomes for children, it is essential to understand the unique challenges faced by Aboriginal students in mastering Standard English. According to the research article "Standard English Difficulties and Helpful Intervention Strategies for Aboriginal Students" by R. Colleen Bovaird Wawrykow, there are several critical insights and strategies that can significantly enhance the learning experience for these students.

Aboriginal students often face difficulties in mastering Standard English due to a variety of cultural and linguistic factors. The research highlights that many Aboriginal students speak a dialect of English that differs from Standard English, which can impede their academic performance, particularly in environments where Standard English is the norm.

Key areas of difficulty include:

Moreover, cultural differences such as reduced voice volume, less frequent eye contact, and longer response times can also contribute to misunderstandings and miscommunication in the classroom. Understanding these cultural nuances is crucial for effective intervention.

The research suggests several data-driven strategies for intervention:

Assessment Strategies

Use standardized tests such as the Bracken Basic Concept Scale-Third Edition: Receptive (BBCS-3: R) and the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals, Fourth Edition (CELF-4) to identify specific areas where students struggle with Standard English. These tests help in comparing a student's performance to same-age Standard English speakers, thus pinpointing areas of difficulty without labeling them as language delays.

Intervention Strategies

Introduce students and their families to the concept of dialectal differences, emphasizing that no one version of English is superior but that academic success often requires proficiency in Standard English. Terms like "home way" and "school way" can be used for younger children to explain this concept.

Implement specific teaching methods that align with the holistic and visual learning styles often preferred by Aboriginal students. Techniques such as the Total Physical Approach, which incorporates visual aids and movement, can be particularly effective.

Provide context and move from the whole to the part and back to the whole when teaching grammar and vocabulary. Use visual aids like semantic maps and concrete examples from the child's environment to reinforce learning.

Cultural Sensitivity

Consult with the child's family before addressing cultural discourse differences such as eye contact and vocal volume. Discuss mainstream expectations and how adapting to these can aid in classroom communication.

Encourage compensatory strategies for cultural differences, such as making intermittent eye contact or using "Give me five" gestures instead of handshakes.

By implementing these data-driven strategies, practitioners can make a significant impact on the educational outcomes of Aboriginal students. Future research and the development of formal assessment tools tailored to Aboriginal dialects will further enhance the effectiveness of these interventions.

To read the original research paper, please follow this link: Standard English Difficulties and Helpful Intervention Strategies for Aboriginal Students.


Citation: Wawrykow, R. C. B. (2011). Standard English Difficulties and Helpful Intervention Strategies for Aboriginal Students. Canadian Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, 35(2), 198-213. Retrieved from https://cjslpa.ca/files/2011_CJSLPA_Vol_35/No_02_103-213/Wawrykow_CJSLPA_2011.pdf

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