Impacts of phonological disorders on english language learning of learners with down syndrome in Nyeri County, Kenya
Kinuthia, Carol Nyathama
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The purpose of this study was to analyse the impacts of phonological disorders on English language learning of learners with DS. The main objectives of the study were: to identify the types of phonological disorders in language learning of learners with DS; to analyse the patterns of phonological errors made by learners with DS, to establish how the presence of phonological errors affect English language learning of learners with DS and; to establish possible ways of correcting phonological disorders in language learning of learners with DS. These objectives were achieved by observing, analyzing and interpreting the sounds and words children with DS produced. The study was prompted by the delays in speech and language development in learners with DS and therefore the need to study the nature of their language specifically phonological awareness, speech and the possible intervention techniques that can be used to address the situation. The study was based on the theory of Natural Phonology by David Stampe (1989). A descriptive case study was conducted on children with DS and their speech observed and recorded through participant observation. The teachers were also given questionnaires on their take and experience when teaching language to these learners. A qualitative research design was used to analyse the data. The school under study was Blessed Joseph Allamano Special School located in Tetu Sub-county, Nyeri County. The study targeted pupils with DS in the school. The participants were all the fifteen pupils and the two language teachers. The research instruments used were:-test tools, observation checklists, questionnaires and document analysis. The analysis was qualitative in nature where errors were identified, analysed and their impact on language learning established. Analysis was also done on the respondents’ suggestions and opinions. Furthermore, document analysis was done to gain an insight on the background of the learners and records of their performance in language. Data collected was presented in form of simple descriptive statistics and tables, it was then analysed and discussed. The following findings emerged: the DS condition hinders phonological awareness leading to emergence of phonological errors. This in turn hinders language learning which can be improved through a variety of complementary intervention techniques to help correct the situation. Conclusion was drawn, guided by the findings, that learners with DS experience phonological challenges when learning language. They therefore need special attention in language learning to help them curb the challenges of phonological errors and increase their chances of language mastery. Consequently, the following major recommendations were made: teachers who teach English language to learners with DS should be well trained on the best way to teach them, early intervention should be done to train the learners at an early age, there is need for parental involvement and also the Ministry of Education should re-examine the 8.4.4 syllabus putting into consideration the needs of learners with DS.