Linguistics colloquium: Esther Geva

24/05/2016 - 14:00 - 15:30

Esther Geva, OISE, The University of Toronto

Title: Learning Disabilities in English Language Learners  - Beliefs and Research Evidence


It is important to be skilled in assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse children and adolescents who may have a learning disability (LD) when students do not speak the societal language or adhere to the cultural traditions of the dominant culture i. Issues pertaining to the assessment of L2 children who may have a learning disability (LD) have been controversial and challenging due to factors related to over-identification of L2 as LD (Cummins, 1984) and under-identification of L2 with LD (Limbos & Geva, 2001).

I will begin the colloquium with a brief discussion of beliefs held by some professionals with regard to whether, when, and how to assess potential LD in L2 learners. Some of these are supported by the research but others are not. I will then touch briefly on pertinent theoretical frameworks (what is universal – what is language specific; L1-L2 transfer; the simple view or reading; development over time). The presentation will then shift to a description of outcomes of longitudinal studies conducted in my lab in Toronto on the cognitive, language and literacy development of typically and atypically developing English Language Learners (ELLs) and their monolingual peers. This research sheds light on these beliefs and informs the last part of the presentation – a brief discussion of “Do’s and Don’ts” in the assessment of LD who are ELLs.