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Promoting Understanding Across Languages in Universal Design for Learning

Promoting understanding across languages is a universal design for learning (UDL) guideline that supports multiple means of representation. The UDL guidelines were developed by an organization called CAST. This article will explore how teachers and other educators can find ways to present information in multiple languages.

Promoting understanding across languages in Universal Design for Learning

Promoting understanding across languages means making as much information as possible available in other languages, or other words. Some students may be learning a new language while they take academic courses in that language. As a result, they will better understand course content they perceive in both their native and new languages. Similarly, some students may be learning academic words and phrases for the first time. Therefore, they may benefit from definitions of these academic turns of phrase in plain language.

Teachers can use many strategies for promoting understanding across languages. For example, teachers can find online translations of the most crucial course content in multiple languages. For instance, translations into American Sign Language (ASL), or another Sign language, can supplement Sign language interpretation. Alternatively, teachers can find definitions and pronunciations of important vocabulary in many languages. Learners who speak multiple languages can look up new words and phrases in the languages they know best. Furthermore, teachers can provide links to online translation tools or glossaries where learners can look up words or phrases.

In addition, teachers can define academic terms with simpler words still used in the academic context, or with colloquial language that learners might be more familiar with. For example, a teacher could define “protagonist” as the “main character”, or as the person a story is about. Finally, teachers can use visual media, such as pictures or videos, to teach content in ways that do not rely on language.