The Effects of Bilingualism on Students with Dyslexia
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Can bilingualism (i.e., knowledge of more than one language) positively influence reading ability in a dyslexic? As things stand, to be able to read at a grade-appropriate level, it is necessary to have special training. However, an interesting recent study (Kovelman, Bisconti and Hoeft, 2016) suggests that study of a foreign language that is more phonologically transparent than one’s native language can allow a dyslexic student to improved reading skills in their native language. In that study, it was found that dyslexic students learning a phonologically transparent language (such as Italian or Spanish) began to experience improved literacy rates in their first language, English (Kovelman, Bisconti and Hoeft, 2016). I noted however that this study concerned instructed second language learners of a Romance language that was more phonologically transparent than their native language, which was a Germanic language. This led to the question of whether similar benefits to those found by Kovelman and colleagues could arise for a native English speaker through learning another Germanic language (e.g., German) that was more phonologically transparent than their native language (English), or whether the benefit would only emerge through learning a more phonologically transparent Romance language. To address this question, a hypothetical experiment will be proposed, and the implications of its possible outcomes will be discussed in light of the original research question. The results of such an experiment could have potentially broad implications for native English speaking students currently struggling with dyslexia.