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Asperger’s syndrome and
second language acquisition;
how can we manage student’s
better acquisition of a foreign
language and their integration
in a typical Greek school-
It’s an autistic spectrum disorder
Difficulties in social interaction and non
Relative preservation of cognitive and
After DSM-5 in 2013, Asperger’s diagnosis
was eliminated and replaced by a
diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder on
a severity scale
The Greek educational system
The need of special education was
officially acknowledged in 1985. Schools
work under the most current law that was
passed in 2008.
According to this law, students who
cannot be incorporated in a typical class of
the ‘normal’ Greek school, attend classes
at ‘special’ schools.
Recent tries to integrate specific groups of
those students to ‘normal’ schools have
been –in general- successful.
These tries are based on a system of
under-cover parallel support by a second
teacher in the same class.
However, due to lack of money and
teachers, under-cover parallel support is
only for the basic subjects and not for the
subject of a second language.
In order to achieve the integration of
students with Asperger’s in the second
language classes we should bare in mind
both the needs of the students and of the
Greek state/educational system.
Adopting specific teaching
approaches/methods in language classes
can be the solution to the problem.
Focus on the development of the student’s
communicative skills and not only on a
strict teaching of the target language’s
structures. So, it emphasizes both on the
structural and functional aspects of the
Its main characteristics differentiate it
from previous language teaching
The method is based on Gardner’s ideas
that there are multiple intelligences on
The intelligences are eight; linguistic,
bodily/kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal,
intrapersonal and naturalist.
It is a philosophy that makes each student
the center of attention.
Content and Language
Integrated Learning (CLIL)
In CLIL, students are taught a school subject
like Mathematics or Science on the target
language and not on their mother tongue.
It would be ideal for language learning for
students with Asperger’s syndrome because
it promotes bilingualism.
Though, the Greek state cannot probably
adopt a method like this in schools right
now, as it requires second language
proficiency by the vast majority of teachers.
All in all…
Students with Asperger’s syndrome can
acquire a foreign language with the help of
Communicative language teaching combined
with the method of Multiple Intelligences
would help to achieve language learning and
at the same time achieve the integration of
the student in today’s typical Greek class.
(vital to be changed is the attitude of the
teachers –self-improvement is the first step).