Learning difficulties and English acquisition � obstacles and

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Learning difficulties and English acquisition � obstacles and Powered By Docstoc
					Learning Difficulties and English
  Acquisition – Obstacles and
          Challenges
     Janina Kahn-Horwitz
   horwitz@netvision.net.il
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).




                     12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   2
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.



                     12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   3
      Language aptitude continuum: a 4th grade class
      (Hebrew L1) in the north (n = 25) - started studying
      English in 3rd grade
                         2 students -
                          average L1
                         skills who
                         receive
                         extra help
                         privately                                 3 English
     8 students -                                                  speaking
     average L1 skills                         6                   students
     & lacking                                 students -          – either 1
     motivation                                strong L1           or 2
                                               skills,             English
                          2 students -         strongly
                                               motivated           speaking
                          average L1
                          skills &                                 parents or
4 students - diagnosed    strong                                   spent 3
LD including 1 with a     motivation                               years
communication based                                                abroad
disorder and 2
bilinguals.                             12/11/2011     ETAI Spring Conference 2009   4
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)

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                 Social Context                                         provides
1
                                   leads to



                  Attitudes
                                          which appear in the learner as

           Motivation                         Which joins with other personal
                                              characteristics such as



     Age       Personality             Capabilities            Previous
                                                               Knowledge
                   All of which explain the use the learner makes of the available


               Learning opportunities-formal or informal

                The interplay between learner & situation determining

                                              ETAI learner
    Linguistic & Non-linguistic outcomes for the Spring Conference 2009
                                  12/11/2011                                         6
    If we focus on language capabilities we
    need to examine:
2   connections between L1 (Hebrew
    or Arabic) and additional language
            learning (English)
     Linguistic Coding Differences
      Hypothesis (Sparks & Ganschow,
      1991; 1993)

                       12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   7
    Connection between L1 &
   additional language learning

 Foreign (Additional) Language
             (e.g. English)


First Language (Hebrew, Arabic)
(phonological, orthographic, semantic,
        morphological codes)

                      12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   8
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…
                   12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   9
3   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.


                     12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   10
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.

                      12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   11
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).


                     12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   12
 Years of reading instruction required to
 achieve familiar word recognition:

English               2.5 years

Danish                2 years

Most other            1 year
European
orthographies
                    12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   13
    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  8 .125
    (the closer to 1, the simpler the phoneme representation)
                              12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   14
   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
                        12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   15
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)




                          12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   16
“aw” in a decontextualised word turns out to
be even more challenging for students
without LLD (Kahn-Horwitz & Goldstein, 2008)




                     12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   17
“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, 2000.
                 12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   18
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.
                     12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   19
Individual differences between high & low
achievers, LD and ADHD L2 learners
Sparks, Humbach & Javorsky, (2008). Learning and
Individual Differences

 156  - L1 English speaking high
  school students studying L2 Spanish.
 Sparks and colleagues obtained L1
  English elementary school grades for
  these students.


                       12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   20
                4 groups
High Achievers (HA)


ADHD


Low Achievers (LA)


Learning Disabled (LD)

                     12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   22
      Language aptitude continuum: a 4th grade class
      (Hebrew L1) in the north (n = 25) - started studying
      English in 3rd grade
                         2 students -
                          average L1
                         skills who
                         receive
                         extra help
                         privately                                 3 English
     8 students -                                                  speaking
     average L1 skills                         6                   students
     & lacking                                 students -          – either 1
     motivation                                strong L1           or 2
                                               skills,             English
                          2 students -         strongly
                                               motivated           speaking
                          average L1
                          skills &                                 parents or
4 students - diagnosed    strong                                   spent 3
LD including 1 with a     motivation                               years
communication based                                                abroad
disorder and 2
bilinguals.                             12/11/2011     ETAI Spring Conference 2009   23
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
  4th grade achieved significantly higher
  scores on Spanish L2 measures
  several years later.


                     12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   24
 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.

                 12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   25
    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.

                          12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   26
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)

                    12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   27
Can a student with L1 difficulties
(medium to severe) acquire an
additional language?
1.   The ideal situation: the case of N.
     (currently in 7th 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)
                      12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   28
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.
                      12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   29
     The need to learn from one another:
1. Some years ago Ellen Hoffenberg Sarfati
   documented her experience teaching weak high
   school EAL students
   http://www.etni.org.il/etninews/ldart.htm
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
                               London: David Fulton. 2009 30
   Educators (pp. 235-242).12/11/2011    ETAI Spring Conference
  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.
                     12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   31
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.
                  12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   32
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.
                     12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   33
Thank you for your attention!

  horwitz@netvision.net.il




             12/11/2011   ETAI Spring Conference 2009   34

				
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