My child is bilingual, and we have just detected that he presents dyslexia, should we remove one language?


Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder of neurobiological origin. It is not related to low intellectual abilities, poor schooling, laziness, or the number of languages that your child speaks. Dyslexia is not related to oral language, so your child will be able to speak as many languages as he/she wishes.

Within dyslexia, we can differentiate between decoding difficulties and comprehension difficulties. The first ones stem from phonological deficits and it is related to being able to associate sounds and letters. In contrast, comprehension difficulties are associated with vocabulary, morphological and pragmatic skills.

We can find two types of orthographies when writing and reading a language: transparent orthography, the grapheme-phoneme correspondence is clear (like Spanish) or opaque orthographies, the correspondence between grapheme-phoneme is not as straightforward (like English). Some authors suggest that learning to read in both, opaque and transparent languages, would help people with dyslexia compensate for their deficits in phonological decoding by transferring phonological awareness and sublexical decoding abilities from consistent to inconsistent orthography.

I would like to stress the need to receive therapy in both languages because the needs will be specific to each language.

All in all, bilingualism doesn’t cause dyslexia nor does it increase the risk of presenting it, so there wouldn’t be a need to stop using one language. Some authors even say that bilingualism may have some benefits for dyslexia. The only thing is that your child will need to have therapy sessions in both languages because each language is different, and he/she will have different needs in each one.

Although it will take some effort, it will be possible for your child to achieve a good reading and writing level with the right approach. If they find it very difficult to keep up with one of the languages and you chose to remove one of them, I would remove the one they use the least in reading and writing form. But that doesn’t have to be a choice as they will be able to read and write in both of them.

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