“Foreign” Language Learning Disabilities: Issues, Research, and Teaching Implications

  • Leonore Ganschow
  • Richard Sparks


For years high-school foreign language educators have observed bright students who simply could not master the skills being taught in foreign language classes. In the 1960s these students were referred to as “underachieves” (Pimsleur, Sundland, & McIntyre, 1964). Only the brightest of them went on to college, and many either dropped out if they could not pass the foreign language requirement, attended universities that did not have a foreign language requirement, or pleaded with the university to waive the requirement. Occasionally, universities had policies that granted waivers or course substitutions. This appears to have been the case at Harvard University, where Kenneth Dinklage, who has been on Harvard’s counseling staff for over 30 years, began advising waivers in the 1950s for a select few who showed clear indications of a disability that could not easily be attributed to lack of motivation or overriding anxiety.


Foreign Language Language Learning Learning Disability Learn Disability Linguistic Code 
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  • Leonore Ganschow
  • Richard Sparks

There are no affiliations available

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