Posted by Emy Tomita
In these past years, I have had many bilingual dyslexic students who were early identified by middle of 2nd grade. This is so important because they have to learn phonics, spelling, and academic language of the first language in order to scaffold to the second language by 5th grade, the last year of elementary school. In middle school, bilingual education program is not offered anymore so all subjects are in English and majority of time there is not a bilingual dyslexic teacher available.
At my elementary school, the Spanish dyslexic program is taught by a specialist who pulls out the students every day for 30 minutes and follow a program based on teaching phonics, spelling, and letter formation in Spanish, the student’s first language. When all lessons are done usually by the end of 4th grade, the students go through an dyslexic assessment in English in order to be identified as someone who need lessons in English as well. Majority of the time, they qualify for the program and they start the English dyslexic lessons in 5th grade with the English native speaker students. After that, the lessons continue in middle school as one of the students’ elective subjects.
In class, it is not an easy task to notice a student with dyslexia, but there are some signs that I learned that really helped me identify a dyslexic student this past year such as lack of reading fluency in the first language especially in the upper grades; student still reverse letters especially “b” and “d”; student omit words unintentionally; student hates reading and writing; student has very high comprehension when read to; student has great problem solving skills in Mathematics; student also has high vocabulary.
In the samples, you will notice that the student who started the lessons earlier does not get confused as much with similar letters with different sounds such as “b” and “d” and “ga” and “ja” and does not omit words as often. You will see that early identification and intervention is the key to help students overcome this challenge.