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Dynamic Systems Theory and Learning Disabilities in Second Languages


L1: The first language. L2: The second language. ESOL: English ... Kilgore Trout's Report Card. Physics A. English A. Latin A. Russian A. Chinese F ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Dynamic Systems Theory and Learning Disabilities in Second Languages

Dynamic Systems Theory and Learning Disabilities
in Second Languages
  • Dr. Dorothy Fulton
  • Fort Hays State University
  • Dr. Wolf Kozel
  • Fort Hays State University

Key Words
  • Dynamic Systems Theory
  • Learning Disabilities (LD)
  • L1 The first language
  • L2 The second language
  • ESOL English for Speakers of Other Languages
  • ESL English as a Second Language
  • Dyslexia

  • Dynamic Systems Theory
  • The Dynamic Systems Model in First Language
  • The Dynamic Systems Model in Second Language
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Learning Disabilities in Other Languages (L2)

  • Dynamic Systems Theory (DST) provides a new
    framework for looking at language and especially
    looking at L2 Language Learning Disabilities.

Non -Linearness
Dynamic Systems Theory
  • Dynamic Systems Theory (DST), a relatively new
    theory for SLA. DST was originally developed for
    biology but is also finding a place in the social
  • DST is a blend of chaos and catastrophe theory
    and seeks to explain complex systems where
    variables interact with each other and the system
    continually changes.
  • Classic examples of dynamic systems are weather
    and traffic patterns (Kozel, 2006).

Dynamic Systems Theory
  • A Dynamic Systems perspective provides
  • the mechanisms to describe and explain the
  • interaction of the individual system with its
  • changing environment.
  • Kees de bot
  • Small differences can lead to great effects.
  • A butterfly beating its wings over Peking causes
    a thunderstorm over New York the next month.

Kee de Bots Characteristics of Dynamic Systems
  • The system is composed of subsystems.
  • Changes in one subsystem affect other subsystem.
  • Systems develop through input from subsystems and
  • Development can be growth or decline, and it is
    typically non-linear.
  • Systems tend to settle temporarily in attractor
  • Assessment and prediction is problematic.

The Dynamic Systems Model in First Language
  • Language is where myriad cognitive, social and
    environmental factors continuously interact.
  • We see nonlinearness when a child uses irregular
    past tense like went but then stops in favor of
    goed but finally settles on went.

Learning Disabilities
  • ". . . a disorder in one or more of the basic
    psychological processes involved in understanding
    or in using language, spoken or written, that may
    manifest itself in an imperfect ability to
    listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do
    mathematical calculations, including conditions
    such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury,
    minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and
    developmental aphasia.

Problems of Learning Disabilities (LD)
  • The definition of LD
  • The assessment of LD
  • The developmental course of LD
  • The causes of LD
  • The teaching strategies for LD.
  • Accomodations for students with LD.

Learning Disabilities in Other Languages (L2)If
L1 LD is problematic, how much more so is L2
LD?Controversy Do Foreign Language Learning
Disabilities Really Exist?Similarities
Differences between Foreign Language Learning
Disabilities and ESOL Learning Disabilities.
Assessment of L2 LD
  • Differences are not necessarily deficits.
  • Please remember that dialectal differences exist
    for each language and should be considered when
    using the phonemic charts. (ASHA, 2006)

Kilgore Trouts Report Card Physics AEnglish
ALatin ARussian AChinese F Does
Kilgore have a learning disability?
Teaching Strategies Phonics
  • Is Phonics/Phonemic Awareness the solution?
  • Abe odd hull luck oak.
  • Cry muffin own cents.
  • Use your phonics skill to sound out the two
    phrases above.
  • Global uniformity. Oh, that hurts.
  • -- Ian Malcolm, Chaotician

On the other hand
  • Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde uinervtisy,
    it deosn't mttaer waht oredr the ltteers in a
    wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the
    frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pclae.
    The rset can be a tatol mses and you can sitll
    raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do
    not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as
    a wlohe.

Learning Problems in the L2
  • Sporadic school attendance
  • Sociocultural factors
  • Literacy level in the L1
  • Academic level in the L1
  • Teaching style v. Learning style
  • Ineffective Teaching Style
  • Student anxiety
  • Student physical disability (diabetes, hearing
    deficits, neurological processing, etc.)
  • Student metacognitive skills

Teaching Strategies for Students with an L2
Learning Difficulty
  • Realize individual differences matter.
  • Provide plenty of comprehensible input (Krashen).
  • Make concepts accessible through the use of
    pictures, charts, maps, etc. 
  • Consider using Multiple Intelligences/Learning
    styles with a Sheltered Instruction Observation
    Protocol (SIOP) program.

  • Language and Learning Disabilities are complex
  • DST provides some explanatory power for complex
  • DST also helps the practioner understand
    underlying processes that may be involved.
  • The DST model limits the predictive power,
    authority, and usefulness of various Assessments
    and Tests.

Where to Get More Information
  • de Bot, K., Lowie, W. and Verspoor, M. (2005).
    Second Language Acquisition An Advanced Resource
    Book. New York Routledge
  • Gleick, J. (1988). Chaos The making of a new
    science. New York Penguin.
  • Larsen-Freeman, D. (1997). Chaos/complexity
    science and second language acquisition. Applied
    Linguistics, 18, 141-165.
  • Sternberg, R. J. Grigorenko, E. L. (2000). Our
    labeled children What every parent and teacher
    needs to know about learning disabilities. New
    York Perseus Publishing.
  • Websites ldonline.org
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