Languages for People with Special Educational Needs

  "Offering the opportunity of foreign language education to everybody."

The LangSEN team

project coordinator

Zoltan Póor is a Senior Lecturer in TEFL at the University of Veszprém, Hungary. He is Director of Teacher Education Courses at the Faculty of Teacher Training.
He trained as a teacher of English and Russian as foreign languages and started his teaching carrier in 1981. He taught both foreign languages to young learners aged 6-14 at primary schools in Ajka and Kecskemét (Hungary).

He worked as a mentor to primary teacher trainees majoring in EFL for a few years and after completing his MEd course in TEFL and his PhD in Education (on using technology in teaching modern languages to young learners), he joined the College of Education in Kecskemét and later the University of Veszprém. He has recently started action research on teaching languages to children with learning difficulties and training teachers in this respective field.

He has experience in running international teacher and trainer training workshops in various countries including Austria, Germany, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, South-Africa and Uzbekistan and co-ordinating international research and development projects. He has experience in various ECML and other Council of Europe activities.

Christine Firman obtained her B.A. degree in English and Italian from the University of Malta in 1977. She later specialized in the area of linguistics and obtained her M.A. degree. As a result of her interest in reading and writing difficulties she followed a Course in the U.K. which led to the diploma in the teaching of children with specific learning difficulties.

She has been involved in teaching for over 25 years. She taught English Language and Literature in a secondary school for seven years and then moved on to work specifically in the area of reading and writing difficulties in a boys' primary / secondary school. In 1991 she joined the Education Division and did pioneering work in the area of specific learning difficulties (dyslexia). In 1997 she contributed to the establishment of a Service for children encountering specific difficulties and ever since has continued to work with schools and parents to develop more awareness and knowledge of dyslexia.

She lectures undergraduate teachers and speech and language therapists, on a part time basis, at the University of Malta. She annually co-ordinates and runs an In-Service Course for teachers interested in supporting children encountering literacy difficulties. She has also participated in a number of Conferences on dyslexia and is presently carrying out research work in the area of literacy and bilingualism.

Boguslaw Marek is a professor of English at the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. For the past fourteen years he has been involved in teaching English to totally blind children and students. The English for the Blind Programme which he set up in 1990 focuses on three areas:

  1. designing and producing adaptations of language teaching materials accessible to visually impaired learners
  2. running specialist courses (M.A. seminars) in visual impairment for teachers of English
  3. offering support to visually impaired university students of English
  4. offering English language courses to totally blind children and teenagers.

B. Marek designs educational materials for young totally blind learners facilitating understanding of spatial relations and concepts relying on visual experience. B. Marek has run workshops and seminars for teachers working with VI learners in Poland, Lithuania, Finland, UK, The Netherlands, Hungary, Slovakia and Dubai. Six totally blind university students studying English and totally blind children aged 6 -14 benefit currently from the English for the Blind Programme, which relies entirely on volunteer commitment. In 2002 B. Marek received the Order of the British Empire for the programme.

Bencie Woll came to the Department of Language and Communication Science at City University London in 1995 to take up the newly created Chair in Sign Language and Deaf Studies, the first chair in this field in the UK.

Before joining City University, Professor Woll was at the University of Bristol, where she first worked on language acquisition and then was a co-founder of the Centre for Deaf Studies, pioneering research on the linguistics of BSL and on Deaf Studies as an academic discipline.

Her research and teaching interests embrace a wide range of topics related to sign language, including the linguistics of British Sign Language (BSL) and other European sign languages, the history and sociolinguistics of BSL and the Deaf community, the development of BSL in young children, and sign language and the brain. In recent years she has begun to look specifically at acquired and developmental sign language impairments, including studies of
signers with learning disabilities and signers with stroke.

She co-authored "Sign Language: the study of Deaf People and their Language" with Jim Kyle, and "The Linguistics of BSL: an Introduction" (CUP) with Rachel Sutton-Spence, which was the winner of the 1999 Deaf Nation Award and 2000 BAAL Book Prize.

Jelena Mazurkievic graduated from the Faculty of Special education at Belgrade University in 1997. She works in School for Primary and Secondary education "Milan Petrovic" in Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro. During this period she has worked as a therapist of children with different developmental disorders and blind children.

The special field of her interest is teaching English as a foreign language to children with special needs. Apart from working in rehabilitation of children she works as an English teacher to blind children at school. In 2003 she was selected to join the first YL ELT trainer training course organized by the BC and the Ministry of Education and Sports of S&M. After completing this course she has worked as an ELT teacher trainer in Serbia and Montenegro. During her professional career she presented projects on teaching children from the aspect of developmental neuropsychology. She also attended several workshops in Linz, Warsaw, Madrid and Osijek

At present she teaches first grade children with highly functional autism and continues her work in teaching English language and Information technology to children with visual impairment.