Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dyslexia is not a language based learning disability


I'm afraid I have to disagree with what Rachna Varia says in her video. LINK

    This video shares what dyslexia is, what it's not, and what needs to be done!

    “Dyslexia is a language based learning disability that impacts phonological processing in reading…”

     “Phonological processing is the ability to see or hear a word, break it down to discrete sounds, and then associate each sound with letter/s that make up the word”.


My comment: Both the statements above are erroneous. It is Ph.D. holders like her who write as if they are authorities on subjects that they know little about. This is one of the problems that hinders the progress of education.


I have written many articles in my blog saying that dyslexia is not a language-based disability unless, of course, Rachna Varia thinks that English is the only language in the world. The late PM of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, who was a dyslexic spoke 6 languages. All my dyslexic students over the past 11 years could read in languages other than English when they first came to me. As such, how can one say that Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability?


There are reports in my blog here which state that kids who learn to read in Italian are dyslexic when it comes to reading in the English language. As such it is not a language-based learning disability.


Rachna Varia’s definition of ‘Phonological processing’ is incorrect.


Phonological processing is the ability to recognize and manipulate the sounds of spoken words. You cannot SEE the word; you can only HEAR it.


Phonological processing includes phonemic processing which is the ability to recognize and manipulate phonemes in spoken words.


Rachna and many teachers have not grasped the differences between phonemic and phonics awareness.

Very simply put, phonics has to do with printed words. It deals with letters and various sounds represented by those letters. It is an academic skill. In other words, phonics starts with letters first and children are taught the sounds that those letters make.


Phonemic awareness which falls under the umbrella of phonological awareness has to do with the oral sounds in spoken words. It has nothing directly to do with letters. It is a mental/linguistic skill.

Therefore, phonics awareness is not the same as phonological awareness.


A simple way to differentiate the two is to remember that phonemic awareness and phonological awareness can be done with the eyes closed whilst phonics cannot. Phonemic awareness and phonological awareness deal with oral input whilst phonics deals with visual input.


I repeat ‘Phonological Awareness’ is the awareness of sounds only. It is void of print. No letters are introduced and no sound-to-symbol correspondence is taught.


Herein lies the problem with reducing the illiteracy rate. The PhDs say that Phonological processing is the problem with dyslexics not being able to read and teachers believe what the PhDs say and continue barking up the wrong tree. If you look for a solution to a nonexistent problem how do you reduce the illiteracy rate?


NOTE: I do not like to use the word dyslexic kids. I prefer the term, shut-down kids. 


kevinlow said...

I agree. My kid shuts down every time we ask him to read!

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you Kevin for this confirmation.

I saw one of my students today after 10 years. Her name is Yoshini Thiagarajan and she is in form 4 (grade 10) in St. Francis Convent in Kota Kinabalu.

She is the girl who had refused to say the word fox as to her it should have been sounded by me as 'fuh- ox'.

I am happy to say that she is now in the top 5 in her school.
She represented the State of Sabah in National Coral Speaking in Selangor in 2013.

I will write about her soon.

Halton Hills Christian School said...

I read this article, it is really informative one. Your way of writing and making things clear is very impressive. Thanking you for such an informative article. Mississauga Learning Disability

Luqman Michel said...

Hello Halton Hills Christian School and thank you for your comment.
I wish you well.

Marry jacnow said...

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Luqman Michel said...

Thank you Mary Jacknow.
Yes, my blog posts are useful for those who find it useful.
I wish you well.

Anonymous said...

Michel, what is your view on the Orton-Gillingham method?

Luqman Michel said...

I regret I know nothing about OG other than what many OG proponents write on social media.

In a recent discussion on YouTube between David Boulton and Andrew Johnson Andre Johnson said the following:

'The International Dyslexia Association presses a certain definition and they exist to sell products to make money. How much does it cost to get trained in Orton Gillingham, a program that has no research base and does not work yet people do it.'

You may read more on my post at

Thank you for your question and sorry I am not of much help in this matter.