Teachers’ role in Enhancing Communication Skills of Learners with Speech and Language Disorders. A Case of Joy Town Special Primary School Kiambu County, Kenya.
Thaara, Munyi Alusiah
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The purpose of this study was to investigate teachers’ role in enhancing communication skills of learners with speech and language disorders. Teachers play a major role in supporting children’s educational, social and emotional development although may be unprepared for supporting children with speech and language disorders. The study objectives included establishing teachers’ knowledge about signs of speech and language disorders in the communication of learners in Joy town primary school, finding out the extent of knowledge possessed by teachers of learners with speech and language disorders and assessing teachers’ competence in the use of teaching strategies for learners with speech and language disorders in the school under the investigation. These objectives would be the basis for the accomplishment of the role of teachers. The study utilized a conceptual framework based on the underpinnings of Social Interactionist Theory of Vygostky. The study location was Joy town special primary school and the school teaching staff purposively sampled constituted the study population. This research used descriptive case study design mainly using qualitative approach. Data was primarily collected using questionnaires and observation schedule for teachers and interview guide for the head teacher. The study instruments were validated using the supervisors’ suggestions and expert judgment. The study reliability was determined by pilot-testing on the questionnaires using Cronbach coefficient alpha test. Qualitative data was analylized thematically, while simple descriptive statistics was used to analyze quantitative data. The study found that most teachers were well trained in special needs education, but had not received training in speech and language disorders. It was revealed that they lacked knowledge about identification of learners with speech and language disorders. The study further showed that teachers lacked competence to use informed teaching strategies and materials to enhance learners’ communication skills. Conclusively, although teachers are competently trained to execute national curriculum, they are not trained in speech and language pathology and lack competence to accomplish the teaching of learners with speech and language disorders. It is recommended that adequate teacher supportive structures to be set up to promote their role in enhancing communication skills of learners with speech and language disorders. The study further recommends a further research to be conducted to examine collaboration among teachers and speech and language pathologists to promote children’s literacy and language to enlighten on the need to establish appropriate integrative school interventional approaches with a view to helping children become effective communicators, problem solvers and decision-makers and benefit from a fulfilling and excellent learning experience.