Assessment of Dyslexia in Bilinguals
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Problems with reading and writing in a second language are often attributed to the bilingualism. However, these problems may be the result of a reading disorder that was not previously identified. Hence, dyslexia in bilinguals is not recognized and facilities for dyslexics are lacking. For both adults and children who are dyslexic and bilingual it is important to be diagnosed and receive the intervention needed. This study investigated a group of second language learners of Dutch that were diagnosed as dyslexic in their native language Hebrew. A battery of tasks was used, consisting of standardised tests for monolinguals, one task for bilingual children and experimental tasks that were designed for this study to assess phoneme awareness. All tasks were carried out in Dutch, the second language of the participants. The results show that the dyslexic L2-ers of Dutch perform significantly below the non-impaired group on tasks assessing phonological skills. The hypothesis that phonological skills can be used to diagnose dyslexia in this group of bilinguals, and that dyslexia therefore can be identified in bilinguals, was confirmed. Hence, it is possible to disentangle dyslexia and bilingualism. While the sample size was small due to the selection criteria used, the results are promising. Methods that are used in the assessment of dyslexia in monolinguals can thus be used to accurately identify the presence of dyslexia in bilinguals.