Nav: Home

Bilinguals use inter-language transfer to deal with dyslexia

June 13, 2018

Dyslexic children learning both a language that is pronounced as written -like Spanish- and a second language in which the same letter can have several sounds -such as English- are less affected by this alteration when reading or writing in the latter language. The authors of the Basque research centre BCBL warn that this is less a cure than a reduction of some of the symptoms.

Dyslexia or dsxyliea? Anyone without reading disorders could read the first word without any problem. But if read by someone who suffers from this alteration, he or she will see something similar to the second word.

Dyslexia is a deficit of reading ability that hinders learning and affects between 3 and 10% of the population. Its transmission is partly genetic, and its diagnosis is made in children of between 8 and 9, although the symptoms appear before.

So far, the only way to combat this disorder has been through early treatments adapted to the patient's age and symptoms.

Now, however, research developed by the University of Bangor (Wales) and the Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL) of San Sebastian has shown that some combinations of bilingualism, transmitted from very early ages, contribute to reducing its symptoms.

The main goal here was to verify if bilingualism acquired by children who learn to read in English and Welsh at the same time could benefit those suffering from dyslexia assessed in the English language. "And the answer is yes," as bluntly stated by Marie Lallier, a BCBL scientist and one of the authors of the study, published in Scientific Studies of Reading.

The work was carried out with adults who in their childhood grew up with these languages as mother tongues for a fundamental reason: Welsh is among the so-called transparent languages, which means that their letters always sound the same, as in Spanish and Basque. However, English, like French, is placed in the opaque category, because the same letter can have several sounds when read.

These new findings, for the first time, reveal a clear and unequivocal difference between the symptoms shown by bilingual and monolingual dyslexic persons. And its importance lies in the fact that a transfer between languages has been proven in the case of people who speak two languages.

"Bilingual people can rely on the resources they use in one language to help process the other language, and that is important because it can be very helpful for adults with language difficulties," stresses Lallier.

Robust result

The experts started from a hypothesis: if a girl or a boy learns a transparent language along with an opaque one, the former will contribute to "decoding or acquiring the reading of the more complex of the two (that is, the opaque one)". And the results were conclusive.

"The English reading and writing deficit of dyslexic people who had learned to speak Welsh and English was less pronounced than among those who had acquired only one opaque language (English). It was a significant and quite clear difference," as Lallier explains.

The researchers worked with 60 people of between 18 and 40, divided into four groups: in the first group, 15 adults with English monolingual dyslexia and in the second group, 15 other bilingual dyslexics in Welsh and English. The other two, also containing 15 members each, were so-called control groups, composed of monolingual and bilingual non-dyslexics used for comparing the results.

All participants received the same stimuli in English to see if having learned to read in both languages had allowed bilingual dyslexics to have less severe problems -in reading and phonological processes- than those who did not know Welsh. "Everyone had dyslexia, but we showed that bilinguals suffered less severe problems in English than exclusive English speakers."

A second language does not cure dyslexia

And how does this bilingualism influence schoolchildren, who are potentially the hardest hit by the effects of dyslexia? Lallier specifies that this study has only been tested on adults, but goes as far as saying that "surely, these English-speaking bilingual people had fewer difficulties with literacy in English or overcome certain disorders with less difficulty than children who hadn't learned Welsh."

"You cannot say that a second language cures dyslexia, because the adults in the study still suffer from it; it's simply that some of the symptoms have decreased. Generally speaking, it's good to fight against it, but there are different types of bilingualism: some learn a second language from birth, others at six ... that's why it can't be said yet that it's good for all cases," she points out.

The authors maintain that bilingual persons affected by this disorder should always receive support and re-education from speech therapists and specialized personnel.
-end-
Bibliographic reference:

Marie Lallier, Guillaume Thierry, Polly Barr, Manuel Carreiras& Marie-Josephe Tainturier (2018): 'Learning to Read Bilingually Modulates the Manifestations of Dyslexia in Adults'. Scientific Studies of Reading, DOI: 10.1080/10888438.2018.1447942

FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

Related Language Articles:

The world's most spoken language is...'Terpene'
If you're small, smells are a good way to stand out.
Study analyzes what 'a' and 'the' tell us about language acquisition
A study co-authored by an MIT professor suggests that experience is an important component of early-childhood language usage although it doesn't necessarily account for all of a child's language facility.
Why do people switch their language?
Due to increasing globalization, the linguistic landscape of our world is changing; many people give up use of one language in favor of another.
Discovering what shapes language diversity
A research team led by Colorado State University is the first to use a form of simulation modeling to study the processes that shape language diversity patterns.
'Speaking my language': Method helps prepare teachers of dual language learners
Researchers at Lehigh University, led by L. Brook Sawyer and Patricia H.
The brain watched during language learning
Researchers from Nijmegen, the Netherlands, have for the first time captured images of the brain during the initial hours and days of learning a new language.
'Now-or-never bottleneck' explains language acquisition
We are constantly bombarded with linguistic input, but our brains are unable to remember long strings of linguistic information.
The secret language of microbes
Social microbes often interact with each other preferentially, favoring those that share certain genes in common.
A programming language for living cells
New language lets MIT researchers design novel biological circuits.
Syntax is not unique to human language
Human communication is powered by rules for combining words to generate novel meanings.

Related Language Reading:

Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages
by Guy Deutscher (Author)

A New York Times Editor's Choice
An Economist Best Book of 2010
A Financial Times Best Book of 2010
A Library Journal Best Book of 2010

The debate is ages old: Where does language come from? Is it an artifact of our culture or written in our very DNA? In recent years, the leading linguists have seemingly settled the issue: all languages are fundamentally the same and the particular language we speak does not shape our thinking in any significant way. Guy Deutscher says they're wrong. From Homer to Darwin,... View Details


Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It
by Gabriel Wyner (Author)

The ultimate rapid language-learning guide!

For those who’ve despaired of ever learning a foreign language, here, finally, is a book that will make the words stick. At thirty years old, Gabriel Wyner speaks six languages fluently.  He didn’t learn them in school -- who does? -- rather, he learned them in the past few years, working on his own and practicing on the subway, using simple techniques and free online resources. In Fluent Forever Wyner reveals what he’s discovered. 
 
The greatest challenge to learning a foreign language is... View Details


The Rust Programming Language
by Steve Klabnik (Author), Carol Nichols (Author)

The Rust Programming Language is the official book on Rust; a community-developed, systems programming language that runs blazingly fast, prevents segfaults, and guarantees thread safety. Rust’s memory safety guarantees, enforced at compile time, safeguard your programs against the many problems that pervade other systems languages. Rust offers the control and performance of a low-level language with the helpful abstractions of a high level one, and does this all without having a garbage collector. These characteristics make Rust useful for embedding in other languages, programs with... View Details


The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (P.S.)
by Steven Pinker (Author)

The classic book on the development of human language by the world’s leading expert on language and the mind.

In this classic, the world's expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received... View Details


The Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations for Codependents (Hazelden Meditation Series)
by Melody Beattie (Author)

Written for those of us who struggle with codependency, these daily meditations offer growth and renewal, and remind us that the best thing we can do is take responsibility for our own self-care.

Melody Beattie integrates her own life experiences and fundamental recovery reflections in this unique daily meditation book written especially for those of us who struggle with the issue of codependency.Problems are made to be solved, Melody reminds us, and the best thing we can do is take responsibility for our own pain and self-care. In this daily inspirational book, Melody provides us with... View Details


Living Language Spanish, Complete Edition
by Living Language (Author)

Complete Spanish is a unique multimedia program that takes you beginner to advanced level in one convenient package.
 
At the core of Complete Spanish is the Living Language Method™, based on linguistic science, proven techniques, and over 65 years of experience. Our method teaches you the whole language, so you can express yourself, not just recite memorized words or scripts.
 
Millions have learned with Living Language®. Now it’s your turn.
 

   • 3 Books: 46 lessons, additional review exercises, culture notes, an extensive... View Details


The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention
by Guy Deutscher (Author)

Blending the spirit of Eats, Shoots & Leaves with the science of The Language Instinct, an original inquiry into the development of that most essential-and mysterious-of human creations: Language

Language is mankind's greatest invention-except, of course, that it was never invented." So begins linguist Guy Deutscher's enthralling investigation into the genesis and evolution of language. If we started off with rudimentary utterances on the level of "man throw spear," how did we end up with sophisticated grammars, enormous vocabularies, and intricately nuanced... View Details


The Art of Language Invention: From Horse-Lords to Dark Elves, the Words Behind World-Building
by David J. Peterson (Author)

An insider’s tour through the construction of invented languages from the bestselling author and creator of languages for the HBO series Game of Thrones and the Syfy series Defiance

From master language creator David J. Peterson comes a creative guide to language construction for sci-fi and fantasy fans, writers, game creators, and language lovers. Peterson offers a captivating overview of language creation, covering its history from Tolkien’s creations and Klingon to today’s thriving global community of conlangers. He provides the essential tools... View Details


Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software
by Charles Petzold (Author)

What do flashlights, the British invasion, black cats, and seesaws have to do with computers? In CODE, they show us the ingenious ways we manipulate language and invent new means of communicating with each other. And through CODE, we see how this ingenuity and our very human compulsion to communicate have driven the technological innovations of the past two centuries.
Using everyday objects and familiar language systems such as Braille and Morse code, author Charles Petzold weaves an illuminating narrative for anyone who’s ever wondered about the secret inner life of computers and... View Details


The Language of Medicine, 11e
by Davi-Ellen Chabner BA MAT (Author)

Bring medical terminology to life with Davi-Ellen Chabner's bestselling The Language of Medicine, 11th Edition! An illustrated, easy-to-understand approach presents medical terms within the context of the body’s anatomy and physiology, and in health and disease. With this proven resource, you’ll learn a working medical vocabulary built on the most frequently encountered prefixes, suffixes, and combining forms. Practical exercises and case studies make learning more interesting and demonstrate how medical terms are used in practice. Take advantage of interactive activities,... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Person You Become
Over the course of our lives, we shed parts of our old selves, embrace new ones, and redefine who we are. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the experiences that shape the person we become. Guests include aerobatics pilot and public speaker Janine Shepherd, writers Roxane Gay and Taiye Selasi, activist Jackson Bird, and fashion executive Kaustav Dey.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#479 Garden of Marvels (Rebroadcast)
This week we're learning about botany and the colorful science of gardening. Author Ruth Kassinger joins us to discuss her book "A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered that Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of the Way Plants Work." And we'll speak to NASA researcher Gioia Massa about her work to solve the technical challenges of gardening in space.