Invite Irene to Speak/Consult

I am available for leading workshops and consulting with schools, school districts, and organizations.  I would be happy to send you an outline if you are interested in granting participants CEU (Continuing Education Units) credit for the workshop.

Here is a description of my workshop, which can be done in an abbreviated form in 3 hours, but is best done in a full-day format:

Languages for Everyone:  Meeting the Needs of Students with Learning Disabilities in a World Language Classroom

Have you ever had students who were really bright and hardworking, but who seemed to ‘hit a wall’ when it came to learning a second language?  As more and more students with academic needs are being mainstreamed into regular classrooms, are you seeing more struggling students in your classroom?  Do you wonder how to identify students with learning disabilities and give them the help they need?

If these are questions you have been asking yourself, then you are encouraged to attend a workshop called “Languages for Everyone:  Meeting the Needs of Students with Learning Disabilities in a World Language Classroom.

The workshop is led by specialist Irene Brouwer Konyndyk, Assistant Professor of French Emerita at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who has been working in the area of foreign language learning and learning disabilities for 15 years.  She has developed a pedagogical approach which meets the needs of at-risk students and can be used in any language and at any level of instruction.  A recognized expert, who has done presentations at state, national and international conferences, she has just finished a book called:  Foreign Languages for Everyone:  How I Learned to Teach Second Languages to Students with Learning Disabilities (Edenridge Press, 2011).  The book serves as a much-needed resource for teachers at all levels who wonder how to meet the needs of at-risk students in their world language classrooms.  She has also set up a website .

In the workshop you will learn cutting-edge ideas for how to make language learning accessible for all students.  Professor Konyndyk will define learning disabilities, review recent research, and briefly describe her modified foreign language program for at-risk students.  Participants will analyze a struggling student from their own teaching experience and learn specific strategies to help that student.  Teachers will learn to better understand learning disabilities, especially dyslexia, through an experiential activity.  Professor Konyndyk will show the importance of using as many of the senses (auditory, visual, tactile / kinesthetic) as possible to embed learning, and will explain the importance of a structured environment (classroom routine, assignments, tests, presentation of content, handouts, and expectations of students), especially for students with ADHD.  She will lay out the metacognitive aspects of her pedagogical approach (first-day questionnaire and bi-weekly journal entries) which help students reflect on their own learning strengths and weaknesses and improve their self-efficacy.  She will show the importance of direct and explicit instruction (in the areas of phonology, morphology, and syntax, as well as other areas) for students who struggle.  She will also demonstrate a number of best practices which help these students to learn.  Among these practices are:  frequent repetition & review; attention to affective issues; cooperative learning activities; adjusted pace and content; homework / test corrections; “grace slips” for late homework; and many others.

The workshop will give teachers hands-on tools and strategies to learn how to recognize students with learning issues, help understand their needs, and adapt instruction to meet those needs.  Instructors at all levels will become better teachers, capable of providing instruction that enables all students to be successful language learners.  Could it be that the effective teaching which helps at-risk students would actually be good for all students?