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English class for young people with learning disabilities at Facet, Denmark
Type of learners: Young people with learning disabilities. 18 – 25 yrs
Fairly well-functioning young people with learning disabilities and special needs. They have been to primary school supplemented with remedial classes, some had completed their school education, others had not.
We demanded a level of proficiency in Danish from those who wanted to join the English course.

Size: 6 participants

Meeting place: Facet, Montanagade 6, Århus C, DK

Agency involved: Facet is a private initiative (NGO) offering school compensating education and introduction to the work market for (young) people with learning disabilities and special needs. Although a private initiative it is acknowledged by the Municipality of Århus whose Department of Social Services and Department of Education and Culture provide the funding.

Language: English
Some years ago a leader of a school for young adults with learning disabilities told me that some of them had expressed an interest in learning English. I had that in mind when I submitted our contribution to the Allegro proposal. Returning from the preparatory meeting in Paris where we had touched upon the problem with English as target language I approached the said school leader to hear if these young people might not be interested in taking lessons in say Spanish or Italian but she was quite certain that only courses in English could be expected to appeal to this group. Others in their age group have all learned English at school and to them there is a lot prestige in English because they are in the primary target group of music, movies, computer games which to a very large extent is published untranslated in (American) English. The young learners felt excluded from a language learning experience open to most of their peers.

AIM of project: To offer this kind of learners a chance to learn English targeted at their needs resulting in a good experience as opposed to much of the teaching they experienced at school.

Ms Lene Jørgensen majored in English from the University of Århus. She has been teaching English at nightschool since she was a university student. For the last seven years she has also been teaching Danish to immigrants. She has a brother in an institution for mentally handicapped people.

Henrik Gram Nielsen, Head of Developments. Has been responsible for designing, monitoring and managing local and international projects with FO-Århus since 1992.

Ms Iben A is a teacher at Facet

- establishing the group
Miss Iben A saw our advert and contacted me about two of her students who were interested but uncertain about going to another place. The plan at that time was to collect a class at the Parat til Start project at another address. During our talk, when it became clear that in case we could set up a class on Facet’s own premises, she was sure another three or four of her students would be interested.
The class at Facet would be in the afternoon after their normal classes had finished, but they could chose the day of the week (also Wednesday as it happened) and they could skip inconvenient dates.

Six persons signed up for the class but one never turned up. Others turned up on and off. Only two turned up for the last classes in January.

- preparation of staff
The teacher Ms Lene Jørgensen had meetings with me to agree on the financial and administrative frames.
She had a meeting with the staff of Facet to get acknowledged with them and their participants. She was briefed about their learning capacity and was informed that those interested in English knew English on a very basic level.

- pedagogy [methods and materials]
Ms. Lene Jørgensen is very familiar with teaching English to adult learners with different motivation and learning capacity which. She produced teaching material targeted at the group as they went along and the students were very happy with it and worked well.

LENGTH of project
20 lessons –Wednesdays from 2.15 – 4.15 pm. Class schedule was aligned with the curriculum of the Facet project whose own classes finish at 2 pm every day. Some Wednesdays were blocked by external activities so the 10 times were stretched from the end of October 2003 to January 14 2004.

for learners/teachers/management of agencies

For the learners the linguistic result was mainly an increased vocabulary.
But an important aspect of learning (more) English for this group of young people is social status – a step closer to normality, because “normal” adults of their age understand and speak English (but rarely other languages).

The teacher gained experience with this kind of learners end developed her own teaching material targeted specifically at this class.

The staff of the Facet project was happy to be able to offer this added activity to their participants. They have talked with the teacher about carrying on and there is an interest.

15 June 04 Henrik Gram Nielsen

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