What I Know Now About Learning a Foreign Language [Premium]

What I Know Now About Learning a Foreign Language [Premium]

When I came across a remarkable article titled, “Dyslexia and Learning a Foreign Language: A Personal Experience,” I knew that I wanted to talk to the author. Charlann had the unique perspective of being both dyslexic and a speech language pathologist. She dodged the college level foreign language requirement by getting a bachelor’s degree in speech and theater and master’s degree in speech language pathology. “I no longer tell the truth about how long I have studied French because people cannot comprehend how I could have studied (for seven years) and…still struggle so severely with spoken and written language. I could not fluently retrieve basic structures or pronunciation patterns to communicate my thoughts in classroom discussions, so I tended to speak in sentence fragments and […]

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English Language Learners and Dyslexia [Premium]

English Language Learners and Dyslexia [Premium]

Question: An English language learner recently joined my dyslexia classroom. She seems to be having more difficulty progressing on our standard curriculum. Do you have any suggestions or advice? When trying to understand why a new English Language Learner (ELL or English as a Second Language) student in your class isn’t making progress with peers, individual as well as more general second language-related factors can be contributing to the discrepancy. Whenever a particular student seems to be having trouble showing progress with a curriculum, individual factors, such as their vision or hearing (including chronic ear infections, for instance) interfering with their learning should be considered. Beyond this, questions about speed of instruction, working memory, long-term memory, the number of repetitions needed to progress should be […]

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Q & A: Bilingual and Dyslexic [Premium]

Q & A: Bilingual and Dyslexic [Premium]

Question: Our 9 year old son is bilingual and also dyslexic. We have decided to allow him to attend a bilingual school with his older sister for cultural and family reasons. Will this harm his educational development? The school seems supportive, but does not have teachers trained to remediate dyslexia. There are many reasons why families choose to raise their children with two or more languages, not the least being ties to two cultures and communicating with extended family members. As you may be aware, language learning can be very difficult for some dyslexic students, leading them to seek waivers for foreign language instruction. That being said, we have known many families over the years who have done just as you plan to do. The […]

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Auto-Correct in Foreign Languages: Installing Additional Keyboards [Premium]

Auto-Correct in Foreign Languages: Installing Additional Keyboards [Premium]

This morning, I was interviewing a dyslexic physician, Andrew Newman (we’ll share his full story in another issue) and he happened to mention when he was working through Duolingo foreign language learning app that a pop-up occurred and asked him whether he might want to install a foreign language keyboard to help with spelling in Italian. He had been racing through all the auditory and spoken parts of lessons, but was continually penalized for spelling in the written parts and not able to advance. Installing the Italian keyboard, auto-corrected his spelling and grammar in Italian, so now he’s able keep on learning without his dyslexia getting in the way. Over the years, we often found ourselves writing for or talking to schools to provide appropriate […]

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Foreign Language Learning [Premium]

Foreign Language Learning [Premium]

Q: HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY FLUENCY WITH A SECOND LANGUAGE?     Recently, a member of this community asked about how to improve his fluency with a foreign language. He mentioned that he’d been trying to learn for the past 30 years, but only recently started making more progress with the app Yabla because it was visual and didn’t rely on audio alone. Yabla is an interactive video approach to foreign language learning that provides two channels of captions that can be shown or hidden and TV shows, music videos, documentaries, and interviews. A: I can see how Yabla can help with improving speed of listening. The videos provide context and the scenes may make the dialogues more memorable than if they were read […]

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Dyslexia and Bilingualism [Premium]

Dyslexia and Bilingualism [Premium]

There are many bilingual or multilingual families who are also navigating a path through dyslexia. Bilingual students with dyslexia usually have similar problems in both languages, but some languages are “easier” to learn if the phonology and spelling are more predictable. So functionally, it is possible for a student to appear dyslexic in one language, but not so dyslexic in another. The focus of this article, is not whether a student should elect to learn a second language, and if so, when, but rather what challenges and potential benefits that bilingual dyslexic students do have to look forward to if they ultimately master two languages and also have their dyslexia remediated. LATER BLOOMING If dyslexic students as a group are considered late blooming in general […]

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How Not To Give Up On Learning A Second Language [Premium]

How Not To Give Up On Learning A Second Language [Premium]

Learning second languages are difficult for many dyslexic students; foreign language waivers or substitutions are common, but in spite of this, many can learn other languages and even multiple languages if the goal is conversation. Writing and spelling second and third language can be more difficult, but also possible for many people. Students may be more successful if they able to study over a longer time and if they have learned more about the structure of language in their native tongue. In the video below, listen to 4 Hour Work Week guru Tim Ferriss (yes, he’s dyslexic) talk about how he learned to be able to converse in many foreign languages.     The type of learning described, won’t necessarily make you a master of […]

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How an SLP Helped a Dyslexic College Student Fulfill Her Foreign Language Requirement [Premium]

How an SLP Helped a Dyslexic College Student Fulfill Her Foreign Language Requirement [Premium]

“Kay’s German language instructor referred her for a reading disabilities evaluation because of numerous difficulties that Kay experienced in spite of her high level of motivation to succeed…” – The Role of the SLP in Assisting College Students with Dyslexia in Fulfilling Foreign Language Requirements: A Case Study For many dyslexic students in higher education, unforeseen roadblocks like having to pass two semesters of a foreign language can cause costly delays in the awarding of their degrees. While some institutions grant waivers, others do not, and universities and colleges vary widely regarding their disability support. From the case report of what seems to be a gifted dyslexic student at the University of Florida, there are several helpful practices that I thought would be helpful to […]

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[PREMIUM] Tips for Listening in Foreign Language Classrooms

[PREMIUM] Tips for Listening in Foreign Language Classrooms

Although for some dyslexic students the listening component of foreign language classes is an area of strength, many have significant challenges that teachers should be aware of in order to have a successful year. MULTISENSORY AND EXPLICIT INSTRUCTION TO HELP WITH AUDITORY DISCRIMINATION Dyslexic students can have significant challenges in the auditory discrimination of quick sounds, making the accurate learning of new words especially difficult. Teach sounds in a multisensory way, using pictures and actions and also exaggerating tricky or quick sounds and clapping out syllables so no parts of words will be skipped. Some students may need to have explicit instruction in how certain sounds are generated. Working with a mirror and receiving feedback about correct mouth and tongue positions while saying certain words […]

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Dyslexia-FRIENDLY Foreign language Instruction [PREMIUM]

Dyslexia-FRIENDLY Foreign language Instruction [PREMIUM]

Because dyslexia has significant challenges that make foreign language learning difficult (e.g. impaired phonemic awareness, limitations on auditory verbal working memory, weak rule-based memory and syntax, etc.), many students request and are granted foreign language waivers. That being said, there are many students who can do well at foreign language learning, and alternative classrooms should be considered in order to help more students achieve proficiency in a second language. From Dr. Jonathan Arries: “Studies suggest that students with LDs may experience difficulties with the following tasks: 1) imitation and differentiation of vowel sounds 2) orthography 3) vocabulary acquisition 4) comprehension and memory of spoken instructions 5)reading comprehension passages 6) comprehension of written instructions 7) application of grammar rules taught inductively….Javoarsky, Sparks, and Ganschow indicate some […]

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Dyslexia and Foreign Language Learning [Premium]

Dyslexia and Foreign Language Learning [Premium]

  “…reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in foreign languages are all significantly affected by weaknesses in linguistic coding skills even when the native language has been been well-mastered…” – Elike Schneider and Margaret Crombie in Dyslexia and Foreign Language Learning Because of the significant challenges that dyslexic individuals face with the matching sounds and letters of language (phonology / orthography), working memory, retrieval, sequencing, and rote memorization, it should not be surprising that foreign language is a significant challenge facing bilingual students and college-bound dyslexics facing 2 years of foreign language classes to enter higher education. For moderate to severe dyslexics, foreign language waivers are usually granted; however, for all those in-between, there are strategies that build on dyslexic strengths in visual and multisensory […]

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