1 Ural Federal University (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
2 North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power (CHINA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 8615-8618
ISBN: 978-84-09-34549-6
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2021.1989
Conference name: 14th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 8-9 November, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Teaching a foreign language to the blind adult learners has long been a challenge. Researchers have shown great interest in the topic but the results have been rather controversial. There have been some successful practices, none of which have been widely implemented. Moreover, modern curriculum recognises equal rights and access to the education irrespective of the learners’ special needs. This sets a challenge to the universities how to organize the process of education in such a way that learners on entering an institution of higher education were able to fulfill their potential and show their academic excellence.

In the reality we have to face, modern learners with visual disabilities need to be provided with a way to learn from any location. One of the most promising ways seems to be using a specially designed massive online open course (MOOC). Unfortunately, to date no such course has been created for the blind adult learners, especially if they have to learn the language from the basics.

Ural Federal University is now developing such a course in order to assist EFL learners with special needs. In this article we are describing the techniques we use to teach vocabulary. First and foremost, since the learners spend most time in their first language environment, the course has to be implemented in their mother tongue. Grammar-translation method together with a communicative approach provide a sufficient methodological basis for the teaching. Typical practices indicative of these two methods are thought to bring the necessary results. The techniques we used include contextualising (using real-life contexts in spoken (monologues and dialogues) and written (accessible for reading via special software) forms), work with meaning and pronunciation (via multiple repetition), written presentation of new vocabulary, thus providing an opportunity for the learners to practice typing as well as memorising target vocabulary units, controlled practice of target language. Controlled practice tasks are mainly designed to check receptive skills, as this is easier for technical implementation of the MOOC. Productive skills are checked by translation, with specific challenges (such as mistyping) considered and pre-coded.

It is also worth mentioning that teaching a foreign language we also realise the cultural function. To aid this practice, some extra socio-cultural information in the commentary to every lesson is introduced. Not only does it explain some phenomena in the target language but broadens the learners’ horizon.
EFL teaching, blind learners, MOOC, teaching blind online, teaching vocabulary.