Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Learning Difficulties and English Acquisition – Obstacles and Challenges Janina Kahn-Horwitz

Similar presentations


Presentation on theme: "Learning Difficulties and English Acquisition – Obstacles and Challenges Janina Kahn-Horwitz"— Presentation transcript:

1 Learning Difficulties and English Acquisition – Obstacles and Challenges Janina Kahn-Horwitz

2 What are some of the obstacles? Is there a language learning disability that is specific to additional language acquisition? The unique obstacles created by the English orthography (writing system). 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

3 What are some of the challenges? Identifying potential students who will have difficulties acquiring EAL. Facilitating English acquisition for students that appear on the middle to weak side of the language continuum. Finding suitable intervention models for different schools. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

4 Language aptitude continuum: a 4 th grade class (Hebrew L1) in the north (n = 25) - started studying English in 3 rd grade 2 students - average L1 skills who receive extra help privately 6 students - strong L1 skills, strongly motivated 2 students - average L1 skills & strong motivation 4 students - diagnosed LD including 1 with a communication based disorder and 2 bilinguals. 8 students - average L1 skills & lacking motivation 3 English speaking students – either 1 or 2 English speaking parents or spent 3 years abroad 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

5 Is there such a thing as a learning disability in an additional language if we have no evidence for it in L1? OR Is failure in English a result of a discrete language learning difficulty? May be other reasons - Spolsky’s conditions (1989) 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

6 Social Context leads to Motivation Attitudes which appear in the learner as Learning opportunities -formal or informal AgePersonality Capabilities Previous Knowledge provides The interplay between learner & situation determining All of which explain the use the learner makes of the available Which joins with other personal characteristics such as Linguistic & Non-linguistic outcomes for the learner 1 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

7 connections between L1 (Hebrew or Arabic) and additional language learning (English) Linguistic Coding Differences Hypothesis (Sparks & Ganschow, 1991; 1993) If we focus on language capabilities we need to examine: 2 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

8 Connection between L1 & additional language learning First Language (Hebrew, Arabic) (phonological, orthographic, semantic, morphological codes) Foreign (Additional) Language (e.g. English) 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

9 The above theory accounts for students with specific language difficulties which are measured in L1 but which express themselves in any new language acquired. We will now discuss another obstacle that all students acquiring English literacy have to deal with but this obstacle becomes particularly ominous for students on the weaker side of the language continuum… 5/2/2015ETAI Spring Conference

10 Learning to read & spell different writing systems Shallow (transparent) orthography – Direct relationship between sounds and symbols. For example: Voweled Hebrew and Arabic. Readers can go directly from spelling to sound without referring to meaning in order to identify the word. 3 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

11 English is an example of a deep orthography Deep (opaque) orthography – More complex relationship between pronunciation and letters. Various different processing strategies are used to deal with the complex relations between print and pronunciation. For example: knowledge of orthographic conventions or “knowing your neighbors” (silent e, c s before e, i or y), morphological knowledge sign, signature. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

12 Implications of English orthographic peculiarities When comparing elementary school children in 12 European countries who were acquiring L1 reading and writing Seymour, Aro, & Erskine (2004) found that English speaking children were 2 years behind the other European groups (after controlling for teaching methods and age of starting school). 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

13 Years of reading instruction required to achieve familiar word recognition: 2.5 yearsEnglish 2 yearsDanish 1 yearMost other European orthographies 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

14 How deviant is the English writing system? (Spencer, 2000) PhR (Phoneme Representation) – representation of a phoneme as a proportion of all representations of that phoneme. This shows significant correlations with spelling performance. Single representation of a phoneme All representations of that phoneme e.g. e = 1 = ea, ee, e-e, e, ei, ie, -y, ey (the closer to 1, the simpler the phoneme representation) 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

15 Examples of phoneme representation values for English reading and spelling acquisition (Spencer, 2000) 1.long a: a (nature), ay (day), a-e (cake), ai (rain), eigh (eight), ea (great) – 1/6 2.long e: e, ee, e-e, ea, ei, ie (thief), -y, ey – 1/8 3.long i: i-e, y-e, -y, igh, i, ie – 1/6 4.long o: o, o-e, oa, ow, oe – 1/5 5.long u: u, u-e, ew, eu (Europe), ue – 1/5 6.ou: ou, ow – ½ 7.au: au, aw, augh, ough – ¼ 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

16 Only 4 years after the beginning of literacy acquisition were the majority of this sample of students [without LLD] reading “try” correctly (Pilot study on 180 students: Kahn-Horwitz & Goldstein, 2008) 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

17 “aw” in a decontextualised word turns out to be even more challenging for students without LLD (Kahn-Horwitz & Goldstein, 2008) 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

18 “Children using English as an educational medium will be disadvantaged; dyslexic children will be greatly disadvantaged; and the most disadvantaged group of all may be dyslexic children for whom English is an additional language.” Spencer, /2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

19 Who are the students we are talking about? Diagnosed (less so in elementary school, from JH this changes, differences between socio-economic areas) Undiagnosed – any student who for whatever reason isn’t succeeding in acquiring English. The continuum – we need to pay attention to the weak to average side of the continuum. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

20 Individual differences between high & low achievers, LD and ADHD L2 learners Sparks, Humbach & Javorsky, (2008). Learning and Individual Differences L1 English speaking high school students studying L2 Spanish. Sparks and colleagues obtained L1 English elementary school grades for these students. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

21 L1 Literacy Results The high achievers had significantly higher scores for L1 reading and writing (measured in 4 th grade) than the low achieving and LD group. The high achievers and ADHD group did not significantly differ regarding L1 reading and writing scores. The ADHD group scored significantly higher than the LA and LD groups for L1 literacy. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

22 4 groups High Achievers (HA)ADHDLow Achievers (LA)Learning Disabled (LD) 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

23 Language aptitude continuum: a 4 th grade class (Hebrew L1) in the north (n = 25) - started studying English in 3 rd grade 2 students - average L1 skills who receive extra help privately 6 students - strong L1 skills, strongly motivated 2 students - average L1 skills & strong motivation 4 students - diagnosed LD including 1 with a communication based disorder and 2 bilinguals. 8 students - average L1 skills & lacking motivation 3 English speaking students – either 1 or 2 English speaking parents or spent 3 years abroad 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

24 Results for Spanish proficiency tests, classroom tests, lower level literacy tasks HA students performed significantly better than LA and LD students. Students who achieved higher scores in English L1 reading and writing in 4 th grade achieved significantly higher scores on Spanish L2 measures several years later. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

25 ADHD students scored similar results to the HA students on the Spanish proficiency test as well as the Spanish lower level literacy tasks. In other words, students with ADHD who do not have L1 difficulties may do well in L2 studies. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

26 FL grade results In spite of the above, HA students received higher L2 final grades as opposed to ADHD students. The LA and LD groups received similar grades over 2 years of L2 study. Many of them failed the final L2 proficiency test. Many of these students passed quizzes and received grades for home-work and participation but could not read, write, speak or comprehend the L2 at an acceptable level. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

27 Sparks, Humbach & Javorsky conclude: “Rather than relying on a student’s diagnosis (or lack of diagnosis) as LD (or ADHD), educators should investigate whether students with L2 learning problems have a history of or current difficulties with L1 skills and then focus on the best method(s) for teaching the language skills involved in L2 learning to those students.” (p. 41) 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

28 Can a student with L1 difficulties (medium to severe) acquire an additional language? 1. The ideal situation: the case of N. (currently in 7 th grade) 2. Simmons case (Annals of Dyslexia, 2000) 3. M. teaching English in a school for students with severe emotional difficulties (what a successful experience with English can do for individuals on the lower to average side of the continuum) 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

29 Implementing EAL instruction for students with learning difficulties can take place in numerous settings: 1. On a one to one basis (which is often considered a luxury possible only in private clinical settings). 2. In smaller or larger relatively homogenous groups which may take place in various “pull out” frameworks. 3. Within the framework of a relatively homogenous class of weaker students. 4. Within the framework of an entire heterogeneous class. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

30 The need to learn from one another: 1. Some years ago Ellen Hoffenberg Sarfati documented her experience teaching weak high school EAL students 2. Tova Teitelbaum (2000) reported on an intervention implemented in an elementary school which appeared in the ETAI Forum English Teachers’ Journal. 3. Secemski, Deutsch, & Adoram, (2000). Structured multisensory teaching for second language learning in Israel. In L. Peer & G. Reid (Eds.), Multilingualism, Literacy and Dyslexia: A Challenge for Educators (pp ). London: David Fulton. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

31 The need to learn from one another: 1. Today was a perfect example of this. ETAI provided the framework. 2. And currently, the ETAI Forum (the official journal of the English Teacher’s Association of Israel) which will be published in the next few weeks will be a special LD edition with some documentation of successful intervention experiences. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

32 Finally, optimal policy should consider: early diagnosis and intervention (Ofek Hadash?) professional on every school staff to facilitate the above sound literacy instruction in the elementary school grades (window of opportunity) in a way that maximizes the chances of the majority. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

33 We all need to continue relating very seriously to ways of overcoming obstacles and dealing with the challenges facing the significant percentage of weak to average L1 students who experience extraordinary difficulties in acquiring and progressing in English as an additional language. There are no magic recipes which will enable these students to become linguistically proficient but through thorough, direct, structured instruction we can facilitate an empowering English experience which will improve their understanding of English and their feelings about themselves. 5/2/ ETAI Spring Conference 2009

34 Thank you for your attention! 5/2/2015ETAI Spring Conference


Download ppt "Learning Difficulties and English Acquisition – Obstacles and Challenges Janina Kahn-Horwitz"

Similar presentations


Ads by Google