English as an additional language;Cover story;Dyslexia Awareness Week

29th October 1999 at 01:00
Detecting dyslexia in an English-speaking child can be difficult enough, but diagnosing the condition in children who speak English as a second or third language can be extremely complicated.

This is a sensitive issue, but the Department for Education and Employment plans to publish a review of dyslexia and multilingualism this autumn, as it has become increasingly apparent that teachers are mistaking specific learning difficulties for language problems.

Lindsay Peer, the BDA's education director, says: "All major cities have a high percentage of immigrants whose needs must be met if they are to successfully integrate into the indigenous population. Failure to achieve competence in two or more languages is not only a personal tragedy for the individual, but also represents a substantial loss of skills to society. We need to support the dyslexic community, including those that speak more than one language."

The association believes that over-sensitivity to ethnic minorities' feelings may have contributed to the failure or unwillingness of teachers to recognise dyslexia in the children of immigrants. Lindsay Peer says that failing literacy attainments have all too often been attributed to linguistic mix-ups.

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