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          1.    Editorial Comment
          2.    Pragmatic Skills in Chinese Dyslexic Children: Evidence from a Parental Checklist

Kwan‐Hung Lam 1 & Connie Suk‐Han Ho 1 *


1 The University of Hong Kong


Individuals with deficits in pragmatic skills, the skills of applying and interpreting language appropriately in its occurring context, may lead to reduced communication ability that affects social interactions. The present study aimed at examining whether children with dyslexia had pragmatic deficits and what their specific language profile was as compared with normally‐developing children and those with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Sixtyeight participants of Grades 3 to 6 were recruited from five mainstream schools in Hong Kong. They were divided into the Dyslexia group (N=22), the ASD group (N=22) and the Control group (N=24) matched on age, IQ, and SES. The Children Communication Checklist‐2 (CCC‐2, Bishop, 2003), a parental checklist, was used to collect information regarding the language and communication abilities of these children. Results showed that the Chinese dyslexic children had reduced pragmatic skills compared to normally‐developing children. These dyslexic children were relatively weak in structural language skills and reduced general communication scores that were comparable to children with ASD, but they were normal in social relationships and interests. These results provided new insights for
investigating communication abilities of the dyslexic population and implied a possible need
for remediation of this population in the domain of language use.

Keywords: pragmatic skills, dyslexia, Chinese, Children Communication Checklist-2 (CCC-2)

          3.    The Impact of Teaching Methods on Learning of Chinese Characters among English-Chinese Bilingual Children with Dyslexia

Alvina Hui Shan Lee 1 and Kenneth K. Poon 1 *

1 National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

It is commonly thought that the use of Hanyu Pinyin (or ‘Pinyin’) can promote the learning of Chinese characters as it assists learners to pronounce new characters via a sub‐lexical route (Dai & Lu, 1985; Huang & Hanley, 1997). However, there are also studies suggesting that presenting a Chinese character with its Pinyin depresses the rate at which the Chinese word can be learned (e.g., Solman & Adepoju, 1995; Solman & Chung, 1996). In view of this, this study aims to explore the impact of Pinyin during instruction on the acquisition of Chinese characters by Primary One students with dyslexia. Employing a single case alternating treatments design methodology, two girls and one boy diagnosed with developmental dyslexia were taught to read Chinese characters using two methods. The Pinyin method of teaching involves the pairing of the Chinese character printed on a card with its respective Pinyin transcription together with the teacher reading the word aloud. The Stroke method of teaching presents the order in which the strokes of the Chinese character are written in Pinyin. All three participants recognized more words when presented with the Stroke method across all sets of words. The implications of these findings to the nature of dyslexia and to the language learning of English‐Chinese bilinguals with dyslexia are discussed.

Keywords: bilinguals, teaching Chinese, Pinyin, dyslexia 

          4.    The Literacy Performance of Young Adults who had Reading Difficulties in School: New Zealand Data from the International Adult Literacy and Lifestyle Survey

James W. Chapman and William E. Tunmer 1 *

1 Massey University Institute of Education, New Zealand

The performances of young New Zealand adults (16‐24 years) with reading difficulties (RD; n=201) were compared with same‐aged peers without reading difficulties (NRD; n=653) on measures of literacy in the Adult Literacy and Life‐Skills (ALLS) 2006 survey. All in this sample had received their schooling in English and in New Zealand. The adults with RD were those who reported having received remedial or special class assistance for reading while in school. RD adults performed significantly less well than NRD adults on measures of prose and document literacy, numeracy, and problem solving. RD adults tended to have lower educational qualifications and lower status occupations than those who did not receive remedial reading. Differences in work‐related literacy skills, health, and emotional wellbeing, were small to negligible, possibly because these correlates of literacy performance had not had time to become manifest. The RD adults tended not to choose or like reading when compared to their NRD peers. We considered literacy practices that were in place while these adults were in primary school, including remedial and special class interventions for children with RD, as contributing factors to the relatively poor literacy levels.  


Keywords: adult literacy; New Zealand literacy instruction; whole language;
international adult literacy surveys 

          5.    The Identification of Dyslexia in Preschool Children in a Multilingual Society

See Shuhui Jacey 1 and Koay Poay Sun 1 *

1 Dyslexia Association of Singapore


Given the importance of reading proficiency to literacy performance and beyond, dyslexia has received much attention in recent decades, fuelling vast research elucidating the factors underlying reading difficulties. Research has consistently demonstrated the importance and benefits of early intervention, hence underscoring the need for early identification of dyslexia. However, the existing research and the various early screening instruments developed were largely based on children in monolingual societies. This study examined the early identification of dyslexia in pre-school children in a multilingual society such as Singapore. The Dyslexia Early Screening Test – Second Edition (DEST-II), and the Cognitive Profiling System (CoPS) were administered to Kindergarten One and Two pre-schoolers. In addition, a rating scale on the children’s literacy development was also administered to the teachers of these pre-schoolers. Preliminary results suggest that the DEST-II and the teachers’ rating scale are effective and reliable first-line screening instruments in the identification of pre-school children “at risk” of dyslexia, albeit with some adaptations for use in the local context.


Keywords: Preschool screening, teacher rating scales


To read more about our Preschool Programme, please click here.

          6.    Sustained Benefits of a Multi-skill Intervention for Pre-school Children at Risk of Literacy Difficulties

Angela J Fawcett 1*, Ray Lee 2 and Rod Nicolson 2
1 Swansea University

2 Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield

Children at mild risk for literacy difficulties (n=32, mean age 4.1 years) were identified using a multi‐skill screening battery. The majority – the intervention group ‐ had small group support  (15 minute sessions twice weekly for 10 weeks), while the control group experienced the standard nursery group. The intervention comprised four ‘streams’ – language and phonics, memory (auditory and visual), gross motor skills (balance, imitation and catching) and fine motor skills (pegboard, tool use and fine pencil work). Both groups performed equivalently at pre‐test. An immediate post‐test showed mean standard score improvement for the intervention group (93.1 to 106.2), by contrast with controls (96.9 to 98.5). Mean effect sizes for the two groups were 0.88 and 0.23 respectively. Significantly greater improvements occurred for gross motor skill, memory, and phonology including rhyming, but not for fine motor skill, pre‐literacy and speed which improved significantly in both groups. After 18 months, sustained improvements were found in memory, a key predictor of success in early learning, as well as in gross motor skill.  The results suggest that a balanced, multi‐skill intervention may be particularly effective for pre‐school children.   


Keywords: Pre-school screening, early intervention, learning difficulties, screening tests,

          7.    "Amazing Shortcomings, Amazing Strengths" - Beginning to Understand the Hidden Talents of Dyslexics

Thomas G. West 1 *

1 Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, George Mason University, USA


Editor’s note. This concept of giftedness in dyslexia is one that has not yet been widely addressed within the Asia Pacific context.  This is despite the recognition given to the mild dyslexia of former prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, a seminal force in government for over 30 years.  A search for eminent dyslexics in these areas reveals only the Indian actor, Abhishek Bachchan, and the young dyslexic Malaysian pilot, Captain James Antony Tan, the youngest pilot to fly around the world, with two entries in the Guinness Book of records, who is still only 21. There are undoubtedly many more famous dyslexics who have not yet revealed their difficulties in learning, because of the potential stigma attached.  This recognition of the extraordinary strengths of some dyslexics, if they are not too daunted by the difficulties they experience in school, should begin to redress the balance.  Above all, identifying and supporting the problem early can reduce the potential impact on self‐esteem, allowing dyslexic people to fulfill their potential and make a full contribution to their environment.

          8.    Mathematical Difficulties in Singapore: A Case Study Approach

Tim Bunn 1 *

1 Dyslexia Association of Singapore


The assessment and identification of children with learning difficulties in mathematics in Singapore has not been much researched and discussed in journal articles. The majority of studies in the international literature are based on case studies, which is the approach adopted here with 10 cases in the Singaporean context. Case study cannot hope to confirm or disconfirm any new causal theories (Robson 1993), but it can contribute to an earlier stage of scientific enquiry, of collecting and classifying relevant examples, and so illustrate directly what difficulties children and their parents and teachers are facing. It may through analysis throw some fresh light on assessment, differential diagnosis, curriculum and intervention effects and thus contribute to a broad understanding of learning difficulties in maths and how children might be helped to learn.  


To read more about our Essential Maths Programme, please click here.