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Photograph of Melanie Knight

Posted 14th August, 2011 by Melanie Knight

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Assessing EAL/ESOL students for dyslexia can be like “a stab in the dark.” It is often not possible to make a secure judgement. As well as looking for a pattern of difficulties, it is important to consider a student’s background, culture, educational experiences (or lack of them) and the impact of second language interference upon their acquisition of English.

As well as using assessment materials from “Dyslexia and the Bilingual Learner” standardised and informal tests used to assess dyslexia in adults, the Aston Index and PhAB (Phonological Assessment Battery) can provide an indication of difficulties. They can be used to test basic visual and auditory recognition and sequencing skills. They are designed and standardised for use with children, so the scores cannot be standardised if used with adults.

Aston Index

The oral instructions for the Aston Index tests are minimal and the majority of the students, that I have assessed at entry 3 ESOL or above, appeared to understand the requirements of the tests. In test 5 the student is required to name the upper and lower case graphemes and identify their corresponding phoneme.

In test 8 the student is required to match together pairs of letters and words. If the student experiences problems matching the pairs it suggests difficulties with visual discrimination.

In tests 12 and 15  the student is asked to arrange a series of pictures and symbols respectively on cards to match an array presented by the assessor. The student is shown an array for 5 seconds and then asked to select the appropriate cards which match according to item order and left right orientation. If the student experiences problems matching the array this suggests difficulties with visual sequential memory.

In test 16 the student is asked to distinguish between similar sounds. The assessor avoids facing the student, so the student has to rely on sound cues, and reads 2 words at a time (bun and bun or dog and hog). The student is required to identify if the words are the same or different. If the student is unable to distinguish between sounds that are the same or different this suggests difficulties with auditory processing. I have found this test easier to use than the “PhAB” Alliteration and Rhyme tests. The concept of rhyming and alliteration can be difficult to explain (particularly with students who are at entry 3 ESOL).

The PhAB

The “PhAB” Alliteration test and Rhyme test can also provide an indication of auditory processing difficulties.  In the alliteration test groups of 3 words are read to the student, who is asked to identify the pair of words beginning with the same sound.In the Rhyme test groups of 3 words are read to the student, who is asked to identify the pair of rhyming words. If it has been established that the student understands the requirements of these tests, then difficulties in either test can suggest auditory processing difficulties.

I have compiled a list of tests that I have found useful to assess dyslexia in EAL/ESOL adult students, working at entry 3 ESOL or above, and to apply for access arrangements (as where appropriate). It does not purport to be a comprehensive list of suitable tests for the assessment of EAL students.*see table below Continue reading this article… »

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