Problems with dyslexia and other learning disabilities in language learning

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Whether you’re employed by a school or work as a freelancer, sooner or later you’ll have students who struggle with learning disabilities, such as (mild) dyslexia. The problem is that often students can get by in their native language just fine until they start learning a new language. This is most common with adult learners but can happen with children too if they have only a mild disability which is for one reason or another is not addressed properly. Language learning strips away their coping mechanism that works great when using their native language. Such coping mechanisms are guessing the words in reading instead of actually reading it and trying to guess the spelling of a word even after they learnt how to use it. Obviously, these practices create problems in reading a text in a foreign language or learning vocabulary. Often these practices are mistaken as laziness and the unwillingness to learn proper vocabulary or blamed on a short attention span.

For teachers, it’s crucial to find out what really causes the students to fail vocabulary tests or why they’re struggling to properly read a test that is presented to them. If an otherwise bright and talented student hears that he/she is just lazy or is not putting enough effort into learning when it’s clearly not the case, it can result in him/her avoiding the subject later on which happens often and especially with the case of language learning. The feeling of failure early on can discourage them to try learning a new language later in life unless they’re forced to learn one for whatever reason.

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