Learning Support Newsletter

Eighth Edition May 2016

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It is that time in the year where students will be taking exams and possibly panicking already. We thought it could be a good idea to send some reminders of certain strategies that can help teachers to prepare students and help them boost their confidence and lower their stress level. The following articles may provide some strategies to cope before and during the exam.


In this monthly newsletter we will be focusing on hearing and speech difficulties.

(Main contributors to this section, Maria Michael, CSW, Nosheen Ashraf ATC-LS)

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Different levels of Deafness

Profound hearing loss

Students have the most extreme hearing loss. A profound hearing loss means that you may not hear loud speech or any speech at all. They are forced to rely on visual cues instead of hearing as their main method of communication. This will include sign-language and lip-reading.

Severe hearing loss

Students have difficulty hearing in all situations. Speech may be heard only if the speaker is talking loudly or at close range. A severe hearing loss may sometimes cause you to miss up to 100% of the speech. Symptoms of severe hearing loss include inability to have conversations except under the most ideal circumstances (i.e., face-to-face, in quiet, and accompanied with lip-reading).

Moderate hearing loss

Students may miss 50-75% of the speech. This means they would not have problems hearing at short distances and understanding people face-to-face, but they would have problems if distance changed.

Strategies for Hearing Impaired Learners

  • Face them -They need to see your face.
  • Slow down –But don’t go too slow.
  • Don’t shout –It distorts your mouth pattern and looks aggressive.
  • Rephrase –If they can’t understand what you’re saying then rephrase it in another way.
  • Context –Set the topic first so they know what you’re talking about; let them know if you are changing the topic.
  • Expressions –Use your normal facial expressions; surprise, happy, sad, these show the tone of what’s being said and the size of things.
  • Body language –Feel free to show how you feel with your body posture; folded arms/open arms etc.
  • Mime –Such as smoking, digging, driving, eating and ironing etc.
  • Fingerspell –Fantastic for spelling hard words and names.
  • Write –But be careful on this one, many deaf people do not read or write as well as you.
  • Never –Say, “Oh never mind” or “It doesn’t matter”, if they don’t understand you. Try again.
  • Smile –You’re communicating with another human, enjoy even if it’s a little scary at first. It gets easier.

The following strategies, some of which are very commonly used with ESOL type of learners, are very beneficial for students with hearing impairment.

  • Try to place the student with students who can offer ‘good models of language’.

  • On planning seating arrangements, try to pair the student with a responsible peer to repeat instructions and demonstrate tasks.

  • Use a display board to show key vocabulary (with picture prompts) for a particular topic and regularly remind students that it’s there.

  • Use the student’s name before asking a question or giving a direct instruction. With EAL students, please ensure you are pronouncing their name correctly.

  • Try to adopt a ‘show and tell’ approach to instructions. Rather than just saying the instruction, show the student what they should be doing by working through an example.

  • Give student time (at least 10 seconds) to respond to a question or instruction and then, if necessary, repeat what you said. Say the same words unless you think the vocabulary was too difficult to understand.

  • Check for understanding by asking the student to show and tell you what they have to do.

  • Create visual summaries of discussions as you go - mind mapping, flow charts, diagrams, comic-strip format.

  • Use a hierarchy of questions – start with an open question (“What do you think might happen next?”), then if support is needed frame the question as alternatives (“Do you think x or y?”).

  • If you cannot understand what the student has said, do not pretend that you have – ask for repetition in different words.

Please click here to find out more about the strategies.

Some useful videos, websites, books and article links:

  • Useful guidelines of how to support Deaf/Hearing impaired students - click here
  • General Strategies To Support Students With Hearing Impairment - click here
  • An interesting article to read Fingerspelling - the alphabet on your hands.
  • Strategies For Supporting Students With Handwriting Difficulties - click here

British Sign Language - A Beginner's Vocabulary from Deaf Direct

This is an excellent video that shows how to use Sign Language.
British Sign Language - A Beginner's Vocabulary

Better Speech and Hearing Month - Word Search

Try this Word search game and get familiarised with words related to Speech and Hearing Month. To print this word search please click here .
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  • Jaik Campbell - British comedian
  • Emily Olivia Leah Blunt - English actress
  • Hugh John Mungo Grant - British actor and a film producer
  • Kelly Brown – Rugby player
  • Edward Michael "Ed" Balls - British Labour Party and Co-operative Party politician
  • Peter Mark Sinclair “Marc” Almond - English singer-songwriter and musician
  • Gerry Hughes - First profoundly deaf man to sail single-handed across the Atlantic Ocean
  • Joe Swail - Snooker player
  • Matthew Ian Gilbert - English rugby union footballer


There are many interesting apps for British Sign Language (BSL) available for iPad and iPhone, some of them are:


Next month's topic is Exam Revision some strategies and techniques.


Please leave your feedback here. Thank you.

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Responsible For Layout & Coordination

Nosheen Ashraf

Assistive Technology Coordinator - Learning Support


Phone: 0203 7644347