Workshop 6 follows on from Workshop 5. If you have not already done so, read the pages on identifying barriers to learning before you start.


WORKSHOPS - main page

Once the barriers have been identified, the next task is to devise measures to tackle them. Some common barriers have already been considered, so that may be the place to begin looking for ideas. The chances are, however, that the problems you have identified are peculiar to your group of learners, so you may need to think what you could do that would either remove the barrier or, if that is not possible, provide support that would make the task in hand more do-able for the learner.

Workshops 7, 8 and 9 on this site consider measures that that have been found to help dyslexic, autistic or deaf learners to cope more easily with the demands of foreign language learning and provides a planning sheet to help teachers plans for the specific leaners in their class. The same planning sheet can be used to plan provision for any learner or group of learners. You may wish to have a look at the exemplar sheets listed above before you make use of the generic task sheets below to build your own plan.


Barriers to learning: Motivation, behaviour and learning

Planning support for learners who are dyslexic

Planning support for learners on the autism spectrum

Planning support for learners who are deaf


If you have looked at the exemplar plans you will have seen that the process of building a grid and using it to improve access to the curriculum for for learners who are experiencing difficulty can be applied to any learner or group of learners, and to any subject. If you have professional interests in other groups of learners, you may like to make your own grid and see how it could be used to help you and your colleagues to plan intervention for them. Make your own planning sheet, or get a blank grid at the foot of this page.

STAGE 1: Building your grid

The first column should contain general information about a specific learner or group of learners you are concerned about. Entries in Column 1 should describe the learning difficulties which such learners commonly experience or difficulties specific to your learner. If you find it difficult to fill in this column by yourself, ask the special needs co-ordinator for help. Without information of this sort, it is impossible to differentiate effectively the tasks you plan to set.

The second column should take each of the points noted in the first column and suggest what impact that particular characteristic is likely to have on the deaf learner's efforts to cope with specific tasks in the foreign language classroom.

The third column should list ideas for strategies that could be put in place to make learning easier for the student(s) in question. Effective differentiation can be anything which allows a learner who was at risk of failing, to be successful at a given task.

The final column should list further ways of supporting the deaf learner as well as any help the MFL teacher may need in order to implement the ideas noted in column 3.

STAGE 2: Using the grid

The next stage is to implement the ideas! Don't try and introduce everything all at once. Try one ie at a time, and give it time to bed in before moving on to the next one. Use the grid to keep track of progress and to note any changes that you make in practice.

STAGE 3: Evaluation

Eventually you can use the grid again as an evaluation tool, to see which of the strategies have been successful and which may need to be adjusted.

Blank planning grids:

PFDF version
Customisable Word version


The grids are an example of a problem solving reponse to the specific needs of a learner or group of learners. The process is as follows:

1. What’s the problem for this learner/group of learners?

2. What are the implications for their language learning?

3. What strategies could I employ which might help the learner(s) to be successful?

4. What help will I need?

5. How will we know if the strategy has been successful?


These grids can serve as:

– a clear indication of the problem-solving nature of the task in hand
– a focus for detailed discussion between an individual ML teacher and the LS teacher providing support (including visiting specialists)
– a record of the discussion, which can be referred to, reviewed, and, if necessary revised, at a later date
– the basis for a ‘contract’ between departments; this contract will arise from the specific needs of individual children in the class rather than from a general agreement between members of staff
– evidence of planning, which can be presented to management as justification for the planning time awarded or in support of a claim for LS time in class
– evidence which can contribute to the formulation of IEPs for individual children
– an insert into pupil’s file and become part of the record, contributing to their Review
– a document which can be shared and which may be used as a basis for departmental development
– the mechanism for an exercise in staff and/or curriculum development, and evidence of on-going professional development

Further advantages of blank grids:

They focus on the learning needs of individual children rather than on the teaching styles of particular staff
They can/should show strengths as well as weaknesses and the implication of both for language learning
They can be adapted as required for any child or any subject
The semi-formal nature of the planning exercise sharpens the focus of the discussion, saving time

Whole school use:

The grids could support or supplement IEPs. The first column of the grid could be completed by SfL department for individual children, and copies made for each department, remaining columns could be completed by departments, with assistance from SfL when required. Over time, less assistance should be required.

Further possible uses of planning grids: Ideas suggested by teachers involved in previous projects:
Using grids to plan support for learning



An alternative treatment of this planning formula can be found on the Maximising Potential website, under Unit 2: Responding to indivual learning needs. Find it here:




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