Charting the Course of Teaching and Learning in a Networked World
Teaching Dyslexic Children the English Language.
My name is Luqman Michel. I am a retiree. I have been successfully teaching dyslexic
children for more than 5 years. I would like to share with all of you my
findings and would be happy to receive your comments and views.
There are many definitions for dyslexia. One of them is: “Dyslexia is a learning disability”.
I disagree with this definition. How can one say dyslexia is a learning
disability when there are many things children with dyslexia learn at a much
faster rate compared with children without dyslexia?
They can solve puzzles (the kind where you fit cut up pictures to form a
picture) at great speed. Most of the dyslexic children I teach can do them
faster than I can. Lee Kwan Yew, Tom Cruise and Jay Leno are dyslexics and I
would not dare say that they have a learning disability. Most of our “learning
abilities” are nowhere near theirs.
Another definition for dyslexia is: “Difficulty in learning a language”. I
believe that this definition has come about because most of the people who
write about dyslexia are from English-speaking countries.
All the dyslexic children I have taught speak and learn at least two languages.
They have to learn both Bahasa Malaysia (Malay) and English. Most of them also
had to learn Mandarin in school. I found that all of them had no problem
reading Malay and Han Yu Pin Yin (romanised Mandarin).
How is it that they can read fluently (yes, fluently) in Malay and Han Yu Pin
Yin and yet struggle with reading in English?
Is it correct to say that they have a language disability? I don’t think so. In
fact, I completely disagree.
Recently, I met a friend who is working in Mozambique and he says the
Portuguese language is also phonetic. He pointed out that the people in
Mozambique also have a hard time studying the English language. I have had no
time to check this out but I believe he must be right.
It is obvious to me that my students with dyslexia are very logical in their
thinking and they don't have a problem learning phonetically-correct languages
like Malay and Mandarin (in Han Yu Pin Yin). However, they have a problem
learning the English language which is not phonetically logical to them. In
another words dyslexic children have a problem learning orthographically
inconsistent languages such as the
Another definition is that dyslexia is a lack of coordination between sight and
sound. I will let you decide if this definition is correct. If you say that the
definition is correct, my question to you is, “Why is it then that my dyslexic
students can coordinate between sight and sound and can read Malay and Han Yu
Pin Yin with ease?
Are Malay and Mandarin not languages?
Another question that comes to my mind is, “Who are the people who coined these
My guess is that the definitions were coined by those who do not know how to
write nor speak in any language other than the English language.