Riachtanais Speisialta in
Iarbhunscoil lán-Ghaeilge
Disléicse agus an Foghlaimeoir
Teanga
Matthias Maunsell
Comhdháil Oideachais
GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.
15 Samhain 2008
Outline of Presentation
Special Educational Needs
 Specific Learning Difficulties
 Dyslexia Explained
 Dyslexia Observed: A Case Study
 Issues and Implications
 Further Research

Special Educational Needs
The term “special educational needs”
refers to all those children and youth
whose needs arise from disabilities or
learning difficulties
(UNESCO 1994)
Three major groups with SEN:
Students with disabilities
Students with difficulties
Students with disadvantages
(OECD, 2002)
Specific Learning Difficulties
Dyslexia
 Dysgraphia
 Dyspraxia
 Dyscalculia
 ADD or ADHD

Higher Incidence Special
Educational Need
Definition: ‘a borderline mild and mild
general learning disability and specific
learning disability and those with
learning support needs (that is
functioning at or below the 10th
percentile on a standardised test of
reading and/or mathematics’
DES, SpED 24/03; 02/05
So what is …….. DYS.LEX.I.A?

Classified as a ‘high incidence’ special
educational need/learning difficulty

No agreed definition
Explanation of Dyslexia
Dyslexia is manifested in a continuum of specific
difficulties related to the acquisition of basic skills in
reading, spelling and/or writing, such difficulties
being unexpected in relation to an individual’s other
abilities and educational experiences. Dyslexia can
be described at the neurological, cognitive and
behavioral levels. It is typically characterized by
inefficient information processing, including
difficulties in phonological processing, working
memory, rapid naming and automaticity of basic
skills. Difficulties in organization, sequencing and
motor skills may also be present
Task Force on Dyslexia, DES 2001
Indicators of Dyslexia

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Poor working memory
Poor organisational skills
Poor auditory sequencing
Confusion over syntax
Difficulty with motor skill and automaticity
Slow speed of information processing
Limited attention span
Literacy impairment (reading, writing,
spelling)
Some Key Points on Dyslexia


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No two dyslexics are the same
Some indicators are more common than
others
Severity is not determined by number of
indicators
Discrepancy model of dyslexia
Continuum
Co-morbidity of learning difficulties
Prevalence - Dyslexia

No conclusive research has been carried out
in Ireland to determine how prevalent it is

International studies suggest up to 10% of
population likely to be affected

4% severely affected by dyslexia, further 6%
moderately (Lindsey Peer, 2001)
Dyslexia at Second-Level
Transition from primary to post-primary
 Supports even more necessary at
second-level (Ball, Hughes, McCormack
2007)
 Further literacy skills development
 State exams & accommodations

Research Study
Research Design
Research Design
• Case Study approach
Methods
• Qualitative
• Interviews, Field notes, Diary entries,
Writing scripts, Formal assessment
documents
A Bi/Multilingual Dyslexic
Profile

Background of Subject
 Observations on
Reading and Writing
 Spelling Difficulties
 Strengths in Coping
with Dyslexia
Background of Subject
Bhí an dalta Aisling, a bhí sé bliana déag ag an am, ag freastal
ar iar-bhunscoil lán-Ghaeilge. Tógadh í le Gaeilge agus cé go
raibh cumas maith Gaeilge aici d’éirigh a cumas sa Bhéarla
níos láidre ná a cumas Gaeilge de réir a chéile. Ar an iomlán
ba dhátheangach cothrom í.
Fuarthas amach ag aois 8 trí mheasúnú síceolaíochta go raibh
disléicse uirthi. D’fhreastail sí ansin ar scoil trí mheán na Béarla
ina raibh aonad léitheoireachta le haghaidh dhá bhliain. Ní
raibh Gaeilge ar an gcuraclam mar ábhar sa scoil sin.
Chuaigh sí ar aghaidh chuig iar-bhunscoil lán-Ghaeilge ina
dhiaidh sin, áit ar thosaigh sí ag foghlaim dhá nuatheanga,
Fraincis agus Gearmáinis. D’éirigh sí as na ranganna
Gearmáinise tar éis tamaill, áfach, chun freastal ar ranganna
tacaíochta. Ba iad na teangacha do ndearna sí staidéar orthu
ar scoil mar sin ná Gaeilge, Béarla agus Fraincis.
Reading
“Tá mé go breá á léamh i mo cheann
ach nuair atáim ag léamh os ard is
ansin a bhíonn an fhadhb agam”
(Aisling)
Observations on Reading
•
•
•
•
•
Problem with decoding words
Slow reading rate
Much self-correction
Comprehension more advanced than
Accuracy and Rate
Difficulty across the three languages
Neale Analysis of Reading (Source:
Learning Support Teacher)
Figure 1 NA
Reading
Age
Band
Chronological Age 15.09
Accuracy Comprehension
11.05
12.08+
Rate
11.05
10.02
to
12.04
9.08
to
13.00
11+
Comments
68%
confidence
Writing
“Tá sí go maith ó bhéal ach ní éiríonn léi é
a chur síos ar pháipéar”
(Learning support teacher)
Observations on Writing
Expresses herself better orally than in
written work
 Untidy handwriting and spelling errors
can reduce legibility
 Problems with organisation

Spelling Difficulties
“Uaireanta scríobhaim focail agus bíonn a fhios agam
go bhfuil siad mícheart ach níl mé in ann
smaoineamh ar an litriú ceart”
(Aisling)
“Bíonn sé deacair a idirdhealú a dhéanamh uaireanta
idir an gramadach agus botúin litrithe”
(Irish Teacher)
“Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil aon fhadhbanna aici le
gramadach i ndáiríre, baineann na fadhbanna le litriú”
(French Teacher)
Litriú Gaeilge

Fágann sí amach an h ag tús focal agus an
comhartha iolra í ag deireadh focal
m.sh. mo baile (mo bhaile), cailín (cailíní)

Litríonn sí an focal céanna i mbealaí difriúla
m.sh. aisleaní, aiseana (áiseanna)
deilim,dulaim (d’fhoglaim)
•
Litriú Foghraíochta
m.sh. tres tact aras (tar éis teacht ar ais),
ariget (arigead)
Litriú Gaeilge (ar lean)

•
•
•
Fágann sí amach litreacha i lár focal ach go háirithe
nuair a thagann ghuta le chéile
m.sh. Chuigh sé (chuaigh sé), frisin (freisin)
Deacrachtaí le taoilitreacha (silent letters) .i. nuair nach
bhfuaimnítear an f nó fh
m.sh. go bhuil (go bhfuil), dan (d’fhan)
Cuireann sí isteach litreacha míchuí
m.sh. ibair (obair), sbriobh (scríobh)
Meascann sí litriú Gaeilge agus Béarla
m.sh. sail (saol), could (chuaigh)
English Spelling

She mixes up vowels and omits vowels especially
when two vowels come together
e.g dose (does), hart (heart)

Phonetic Spelling
e.g Patric Kavina (Patrick Kavanagh)
wen (when) meens (means)
•
She sometimes inserts a d instead of a softer
consonant sound
e.g Wudering Hights (Wuthering Heights),
admosfere (atmosphere)
English Spelling (Cont.)

When two consonants are together she will
often leave out one
e.g attemps (attempts), afair (affair)

Three consonants together also pose
problems
e.g lots of rabbit (lots of rabbits)
• She often spells the same word in several
ways (even within the same writing piece)
e.g hosital, hospitail, hoispatal (hospital)
French Spelling

Adding inappropriate letters
e.g il plelut (il pleut), le paitient (patient)
 Omitting letters within words
e.g peite (petite), pisine (piscine)
 Phonetic Spelling
e.g notic (nautique), music (musique)
 Writing letters in wrong order
e.g un chein (un chien), le parnets (les
parents)
• Difficulty with contiguous vowels
e.g beacoup, beucoup, boutcoup (beaucoup)
Strengths in Coping with
Dyslexia
• Previously developed coping strategies
• Self-awareness
• High self-esteem and confidence
• Systematic and methodical work ethic
• Active learning style
Issues and Implications


Review of Study
Immersion
Education
 Dyslexia Across
Different Languages
 Foreign Language
Learning by the
Bilingual Dyslexic
 Approach to
Teaching
Review of Study
• Moderate Dyslexia
• Clear discrepancy between written and
•
•
oral communication
Reading and Spelling Problems
Difficulties transcend all three
languages
Immersion Education

No indication in study that the immersion
environment exacerbates difficulties for dyslexics in
the mild to moderate deficit range
 Immersion programmes can provide a fulfilling
education for those with learning difficulties
 Obstacles likely to be greater for dyslexics without an
Irish language background
 Need for comprehensive empirical investigation to
fully support or refute the appropriacy of immersion
education for those with learning difficulties.
Dyslexia Across Languages
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Dyslexia usually (though not universally) transfers
across the language constellation
Dyslexia manifests differently in different languages
Orthographic variation contributes to the diversity
of literacy difficulties
Some languages are seen as easier to learn than
others
Most research on dyslexia has been conducted in
the English language or a monolingual setting
Objective should be to identify typical reading,
writing and spelling difficulties characteristic of
each language to arrive at language specific
recommendations for assessment and remediation.
Foreign Language Learning by
the Bilingual Dyslexic
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The study of foreign languages is generally challenging
for dyslexics
Students are not immersed in the L3
Based on a ‘continuum of need’ the pattern of difficulties
vary
The linguistic system is widened both quantitatively and
above all, qualitatively
Reading and writing abilities in the previous languages
rather than oral proficiency is linked to more efficient L3
acquisition
Dyslexia specialists generally agree that FLL should be
encouraged
The Approach to Teaching

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Challenge to advocates of a purely oral/aural
approach
Importance of the reading and writing
elements
Support for the principles of direct instruction
and the Multisensory Structured Language
(MLI) approach
Appreciation of the development of literacy in
languages of different orthographies
Teaching and resources need to account for
the target language’s specific linguistic
features
Further Research
Title:
Bi/Multilingualism, Literacy and Dyslexia in Post
Primary all-Irish Education (Phd research)
Aim:
To investigate the extent to which literacy
acquisition is impeded by a specific learning
difficulty among bi/multilingual acquisitors and
the overall consequences for language
competency that accrue.
Method: Collective Case Study
Key Research Questions

How does the study of dyslexia in all-Irish
secondary schools contribute to our
understanding of bi/multilingualism?
 To what extent are the beneficial effects of
bilingualism in third language learning
undermined by the presence of dyslexia?
 Do literacy problems transfer differently
across the language constellation?
 How can teaching and resources be
effectively adapted to allow for these
differences?
Key Research Questions
(Cont.)

Are immersion students being adequately
supported to maximise language learning
development in a truly inclusive educational
environment?
 Are key aspects of literacy/language
development being neglected and
expectations lowered here due to the
availability of exemptions in State exams?
 Should the basis for granting a complete
exemption from the study of Irish and/or a
foreign language at second-level be also reexamined?
Contact Details
Matthias Maunsell
Email: [email protected]
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