I am an ELL teacher at the middle school level. I have a student who speaks four languages, including English, though she has only lived in the US for two years. She is very intelligent, but I strongly suspect she is dyslexic. She struggles to read: she frequently skips words because she can’t read them and assumes they must be English words she doesn’t know. However, when we do activities orally, she is spot on.

Some spelling errors include:

Mask as maks
Ceremony as cenemony
Arrow as arrom
Loom as loow
Tribe as tide

I’m not asking for a diagnosis, just some help finding information about students with dyslexia whose first language isn’t English.

Can you refer me to any strategies or research that look specifically at this type of student?

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

Wow -- 4 languages! Smart, indeed!

If you told me that this was a native English speaker and I looked at the errors in the examples that you provided, I would say there is a good chance she is dyslexic. Many of those errors intimate that she may be having difficulty perceiving the sounds of our language (i.e., with phonological awareness). But, we would need to have a diagnostic assessment conducted in her native language to be sure.

Given that dyslexia occurs across languages, the intervention for an ELL student would be one that utilizes a structured literacy approach.

Relative to research, Peggy McCardle, formerly of NICHD, edited a book titled, "Dyslexia across Languages." I suspect this book will not delve into intervention, though. Here's another article published by Dr. McCardle that might be helpful.

You could start reading her work and take it from there.

I have a lot of information about intervention under this tab, But, again, it all starts from a good comprehensive assessment identifying the student's pattern of strengths and weaknesses.

Good for you to pick up on her challenges and want to learn more to help this student. I applaud you!