Annals of Dyslexia

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 177–195 | Cite as

Linguistic coding deficits in foreign language learners

  • Richard Sparks
  • Leonore Ganschow
  • Jane Pohlman
Part III In The Classroom


As increasing numbers of colleges and universities require a foreign language for graduation in at least one of their degree programs, reports of students with difficulties in learning a second language are multiplying. Until recently, little research has been conducted to identify the nature of this problem. Recent attempts by the authors have focused upon subtle but ongoing language difficulties in these individuals as the source of their struggle to learn a foreign language. The present paper attempts to expand upon this concept by outlining a theoretical framework based upon a linguistic coding model that hypothesizes deficits in the processing of phonological, syntactic, and/or semantic information. Traditional psychoeducational assessment batteries of standardized intelligence and achievement tests generally are not sensitive to these linguistic coding deficits unless closely analyzed or, more often, used in conjunction with a more comprehensive language assessment battery. Students who have been waived from a foreign language requirement and their proposed type(s) of linguistic coding deficits are profiled. Tentative conclusions about the nature of these foreign language learning deficits are presented along with specific suggestions for tests to be used in psychoeducational evaluations.


Foreign Language Learning Disability Dyslexia Specific Learning Disability Linguistic Code 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Carroll, J. B. and Sapon, S. M. 1959.Modern Language Aptitude Test. Chicago: The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.Google Scholar
  2. Cohen, J. 1983. Learning disabilities and the college student: Identification and diagnosis.In M. Sugar (ed.).Adolescent Psychiatry: Developmental and clinical studies. Vol. 2. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. Dinklage, K. T. 1971. Inability to learn a foreign langauge.In G. Blaine and C. McArthur (eds.).Emotional Problems of the Student. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  4. Dinklage, K. T. 1987. The learning disabled college student. Unpublished paper.Google Scholar
  5. Dunn, M. L. and Dunn, L. 1981.Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service, Inc.Google Scholar
  6. Fisher, E. 1986. Learning disability specialist looks at foreign language instruction.Hilltop Spectrum 4(1):1–3.Google Scholar
  7. Gajar, A. H. 1987. Foreign language learning disabilities: The identification of predictive and diagnostic variables.Journal of Learning Disabilites 20 (6):327–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ganschow, L. and Sparks, R. 1986. Learning disabilities and foreign language difficulties: Deficit in listening skills?Journal of Reading, Writing, and Learning Disabilities International 2:305–19.Google Scholar
  9. Ganschow, L. and Sparks, R. 1987. The foreign language requirement.Learning Disabilities Focus 2 (2):116–23.Google Scholar
  10. Ganschow, L., Myer, B. J., and Roeger, K. In press. Foreign language policies and procedures for students with specific learning disabilities.LD Focus.Google Scholar
  11. Ganschow, L., Sparks, R., and Javorsky, J. 1989. College students at-risk for learning a foreign language: A language-learning disability? Paper submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  12. Geschwind, N. 1985. Biological foundations of reading.In F. H. Duffy and N. Geschwind (eds.).Dyslexia: A neuroscientific approach to clinical evaluation. Boston: Little Brown & Co.Google Scholar
  13. Goldman, R., Fristoe, M., and Woodcock, RW. 1974a.Goldman-Fristoe-Woodcock Auditory Selective Attention Test. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service, Inc.Google Scholar
  14. Goldman, R., Fristoe, M., and Woodcock, RW. 1974b.Goldman-Fristoe-Woodcock Sound-Symbol Tests. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service, Inc.Google Scholar
  15. Goodin, S. 1985.Academic Adjustments for Students with Learning Disabilities. Support Services for LD Students in Postsecondary Education: A Compendium of Readings. Association on Handicapped Student Service Programs in Postsecondary Education (AHSSPPE).Google Scholar
  16. Hammill, D. H., Brown, V. L., Larsen, S. C. and Wiederholt, J. L. 1980.Test of Adolescent Language. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  17. Hammill, D. D. and Larsen, S. C. 1988.Test of Written Language-2. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  18. Jastak, S., and Wilkinson, G. S. 1984.Wide Range Achievement Test-Revised. Wilmington, DE: Jastak Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
  19. Keeney, L., and Smith, N. 1984. Foreign language modifications for disabled students—the campus response.Association on Handicapped Student Services Programs in Postsecondary Education Bulletin 2 (1):4–5.Google Scholar
  20. Kirk, S. A. and Gallagher, J. J. 1986.Educating Exceptional Children. (5th Ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  21. Larsen, S. C. and Hammill, D. D. 1986.Test of Written Spelling-2. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  22. Lefebvre, R. C. 1984. A psychological consultation program for learning disabled adults.College Student Personnel. July.Google Scholar
  23. Levine, M. 1987.Developmental Variation and Learning Disorders. Cambridge, MA: Educators Publishing Service.Google Scholar
  24. Pompian, N. 1986. Like a volvo lifted off my chest.Undergraduate Bulletin. Dartmouth College.Google Scholar
  25. Semel, E. M., Wiig, E. H., and Secord, W. 1987.Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-Revised. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  26. Vellutino, F. R. 1987. Dyslexia.Scientific American 256 (3):34–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Wepman, J. M. 1958.Wepman Auditory Discrimination Test. Palm Springs, CA: Language Research Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
  28. Wiederholt, J. L. and Bryant, B. B. 1986.Gray Oral Reading Tests-Revised. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  29. Woodcock, R. W. 1987.Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service, Inc.Google Scholar
  30. Woodcock, R. W. and Johnson, M. B. 1977.Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery. Allen, TX: DLM Teaching Resources.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Orton Dyslexia Society 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Sparks
    • 1
  • Leonore Ganschow
    • 2
  • Jane Pohlman
    • 3
  1. 1.College of Mt. St. Joseph on the OhioCincinnati
  2. 2.Miami UniversityOxford
  3. 3.Olympus CenterCincinnati

Personalised recommendations