German for Dyslexia

ASU professor might have key to helping students with language learning disabilities

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Sara Lee is a Professor at Arizona State University and has been a teacher her whole adult life. She got her start in Germany as a dyslexia therapist.

"I developed a program for German students who were learning English and struggling because of their dyslexia," said Lee.

Now she takes that same teaching method and applies it to her students at ASU's School of International Letter and Cultures.

"There are about 15 to 20 percent of native English speakers who are suffering from dyslexia," said Lee.

In Germany, Lee says, that number is closer to 10 percent. She believes it's because the structure of German words are easier to learn.

"When you look at the English language, the relationship between letters and sounds is really different. As an example, take the words 'tough' and 'through' even though they both end in 'ough' they are pronounced differently. In German it's a lot easier, usually one sound represents one letter and therefore it's easier to learn," said Lee.

Dyslexia is not the same for each person who suffers from it. Therefore, there are different ways for students with dyslexia to learn reading, writing and language skills.

"It could be a problem hearing the difference in the sound, or a problem of being able to translate sounds into letters, or perhaps they have a problem with reading those letters," said Lee.

So Lee caters to each student with German’s structure and logic. It's not as confusing for her students, which then translates back into the students having confidence with the English language.

"So, we want to encourage dyslexic students not to avoid a foreign language, but to go for it because it has so much to offer," said Lee. 

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