Dyslexia in Turkish speaking pupils in the UK could be going unnoticed or being dismissed as general English language difficulty causing them problems academically, a Middlesex University academic has claimed.
Dr Ilhan Raman, a Cognitive Psychologist at Middlesex, says that although the academic underachievement among Turkish speaking children in this country has been repeatedly highlighted in official reports, the impact of dyslexia on their education has been largely overlooked.
Dr Raman aims to set up screening, assessment and literacy and numeracy programmes to those Turkish-speaking pupils who need it and is calling for educators and academics to come together to address the issue.
She said: “It is a well known fact that approximately 10 per cent of the general population has dyslexia. We also know that there is a link between the ease with which we learn how to read and write in a given writing system and rates of dyslexia. For example, in Turkish each letter of the alphabet has only one corresponding sound, while in English one letter can have many corresponding sounds. Learning to read and write in Turkish is therefore easier than English, leading to lower rates of dyslexia in Turkish than English.
“But while Turkish-speaking pupils in this country may not be aware of their dyslexia in Turkish, it may be causing them problems in English and having an effect on their academic achievement. My concern is their dyslexia is being marked down as general English language difficulty and is therefore not being properly addressed.”
Dr Raman held a seminar this week at Middlesex University’s Hendon campus to bring together teachers, educational psychologists and academics to discuss how the problem can be tackled.
“The seminar was about getting our heads together and bringing together theory and practice. Previously there were no formal tests to diagnose dyslexia in Turkish,” said Dr Raman. “We now have normative data from studies which we can use to assess dyslexia and other language related problems.”
The free half-day seminar, on Monday November 29, included a talk by an expert educationalist Dr Kelami Dedezade on teaching bi-lingual Turkish-English children with language difficulties as well as a talk summarising research findings and theoretical aspects of literacy acquisition in Turkish by Dr Ilhan Raman.
Dr Raman said: “My aim is to start a debate which could make the difference to Turkish speaking children in UK schools. This is the first step of an important process. The aim is to use our expertise to provide services such as screening, diagnostic assessment, literacy and numeracy programmes to those who need them.”