Dr. Shadma Iffat Rahmatullah delivered a presentation based on her current research study, which was entitled "Are We Ready for Mainstreaming in EFL Classrooms? An Overview of Study". It was presented at the webinar organized by the Language Research Center on November 17, 2021.
Iffat defined and explained "mainstreaming" first. This term, which is commonly used in the United States, refers to the practice of educating students with special needs in regular classes during specific time periods based on their skills, said Iffat. She added that in the Kingdom, the definition has been slightly modified as "educating children with special educational needs in regular education schools and providing them with special education services". She explained the main purpose of "mainstreaming" as to include students with disabilities within the traditional classrooms while giving them the same opportunities as other students to access instructions and to acquire proper academic knowledge and skills quoting from various sources.
The researcher highlighted some previous research conducted by some Saudi Scholars, such as Almousa (2010), which showed that Saudi Arabia was the first country to implement mainstreaming in the education sector. The study by Almousa pinpointed some difficulties associated with Mainstreaming. At the same time, she restated the words of Al-Mousa (2010) while focusing on its significance as well. For example, mainstreaming, if implemented properly, can enhance the quality of education regardless of types of students. Also, in the mainstream environment, students with special needs proved to be more active in terms of interaction and participation, she added.
The researcher explained some other related terms, such as integration and inclusion, adding that integration and mainstreaming are often used interchangeably, while inclusion is used independently.
Iffat highlighted how to prepare mainstream classroom teachers of EFL learners, which includes understanding students' learning skills, training them to meet the students' needs and classroom organization, etc.
Iffat concluded by highlighting some of its implications. She added that mainstreaming needs to be properly understood as it often has a negative connotation. Teachers' lack of knowledge and expertise often influences their classroom attitudes.
The webinar was a great success.
Source: Faculty of Languages and Translation