Everyday conversations: Inclusive education [audio]

Tanveer, a visually impaired student, uses a reading tool to display text on a large screen. (State Dept.)

Six students from around the world meet. What do they have in common? They are all exchange students studying at a U.S. university for a semester. Throughout the semester, they learn more English, learn about U.S. culture, and learn more about their fields of study. This series of Everyday Conversations is about these six students and their experiences during a semester at a university in the U.S. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

Two students (Peter and Ajay) talk about students with disabilities and the benefits of including all students, both those with and without disabilities, in one class.

Ajay: It was great to meet your brother. I’m sorry he couldn’t stay longer.

Peter: Yeah, me too. But Paul’s still in high school, and the school doesn’t like students to be absent for more than a couple of days.

Ajay: This might sound ignorant, but does he go to a regular school?

Peter: Yeah, of course. Just because my brother is blind doesn’t mean he needs to be in a different school than other students. Inclusive education has a lot of benefits.

Ajay: Do you mind if I ask you some questions about it?

Peter: Of course not! I’m used to questions about my brother. As you saw, he’s a regular teenager.

Ajay: He is. And I think he takes after you.

Peter: Well, we both take after our mom. So, what questions do you have?

Ajay: I’m just wondering how inclusive education works. I mean, how does Paul manage in a classroom full of people who can see?

Peter: Well, anytime there is an image or graph or something visual that the students need to see, the teacher explains in words what the image is.

Ajay: And the other students don’t mind?

Peter: Well, it doesn’t disrupt class, and some other students might benefit from the verbal explanation as well. Plus, as you know, every student learns in his or her own way. By having an inclusive classroom, the students are more understanding – of my brother, of other people with disabilities, and of themselves and the way they learn.

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

A disability is an injury or condition that makes it difficult for someone to do some things that other people can do. For example, someone with a disability may not be able to hear or see.

Absent means to not be in the place where you should be, such as at school or work.

To be ignorant means to not have knowledge or information about something.

Blind means unable to see.

Inclusive education means that students with disabilities are not separated from their nondisabled classmates in school. Instead, both students with disabilities and those without disabilities learn together in the same classes.

To take after someone means to be like someone or look like someone, such as a parent.

Visual means related to seeing.

To disrupt something is to interrupt the usual way of doing something.

A verbal explanation is using words to tell how something looks, works, etc.

Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help.

The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily.

Everyday Conversations are developed by the State Department’s Heidi Howland, a senior program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.