Dyslexia and the Chinese Language in Singapore

Dyslexia and the Chinese Language in Singapore

Priscillia Shen

Liu Yimei

Dyslexia is a language-based learning difficulty that varies across different languages with diversified writing systems. Most studies on dyslexia have been done with relation to the English language, but there is still no widely accepted theory or intervention for dyslexia in the Chinese language. Singapore’s bilingual education policy has put many of our Chinese children in a very unique environment in learning at least two languages of different orthographies and sound-symbol mapping systems. The interest in understanding the differences as well as exploring the difficulties in learning Chinese as a second language with the presence of dyslexia has resulted in research efforts at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) since 2009. In a recently concluded pilot research, the DAS aimed to find out if visual perceptual skills would affect the acquisition of the Chinese language for dyslexic students, other than phonological deficits. Results showed that visual memory presented as an underlying visual perceptual skill in Chinese language processing. In addition, metalinguistic skills such as visual-orthographic skills, morphological awareness and visual-motor integration skills, are the observed differences with regards to ‘risk of dyslexia’ in Chinese language acquisition. Implications for intervention and future research is discussed.

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