The research question addressed in this paper is whether people with dyslexia use reading strategies effectively to understand the meaning of unknown words. Developmental dyslexia is a language-based disorder that hinders the acquisition of reading and writing skills. However, besides problems in acquiring literacy, people with dyslexia also experience difficulties in learning foreign languages. Foreign language vocabulary learning deficits generally manifest as semantic paraphasias, longer times for word retrieval, and nominal aphasia. One of the typical traits of the person with dyslexia is the difficulty in learning vocabulary incidentally. This is probably caused by the complexity of the cognitive processes behind vocabulary learning, which require the integration of various sources of information. Moreover, incidental learning also relies on inferential skills and background knowledge, which might be scarce due to poor reading experience of the individual. To answer the question, a pilot experiment was carried out with a group of Italian university students learning English as a foreign language. The group of participants was diagnosed with developmental dyslexia. The participants were asked to read short English texts and guess the meaning of English-like nonwords, exploiting the information provided by the clues present in the context. Difficulties have been detected, which point to lack of reading strategies and inefficiency of the working memory system. The results of this pilot experiment can contribute to better outline the cognitive profile of DD and suggest the need of new EFL vocabulary teaching methods for DD students.

Incidental Learning of EFL Vocabulary in Students with Dyslexia

Noccetti Sabrina
Primo
2021

Abstract

The research question addressed in this paper is whether people with dyslexia use reading strategies effectively to understand the meaning of unknown words. Developmental dyslexia is a language-based disorder that hinders the acquisition of reading and writing skills. However, besides problems in acquiring literacy, people with dyslexia also experience difficulties in learning foreign languages. Foreign language vocabulary learning deficits generally manifest as semantic paraphasias, longer times for word retrieval, and nominal aphasia. One of the typical traits of the person with dyslexia is the difficulty in learning vocabulary incidentally. This is probably caused by the complexity of the cognitive processes behind vocabulary learning, which require the integration of various sources of information. Moreover, incidental learning also relies on inferential skills and background knowledge, which might be scarce due to poor reading experience of the individual. To answer the question, a pilot experiment was carried out with a group of Italian university students learning English as a foreign language. The group of participants was diagnosed with developmental dyslexia. The participants were asked to read short English texts and guess the meaning of English-like nonwords, exploiting the information provided by the clues present in the context. Difficulties have been detected, which point to lack of reading strategies and inefficiency of the working memory system. The results of this pilot experiment can contribute to better outline the cognitive profile of DD and suggest the need of new EFL vocabulary teaching methods for DD students.
978-84-09-34549-6
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/1124644
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