Friday, March 25, 2022

Dyslexia and Different Languages

Dyslexia and Different Languages

By Maura Baker

There are a lot of myths out there about Dyslexia (many of which I talk about on this blog), one of them being that only native-English speakers can have Dyslexia. While this is not true, people who speak different languages may experience Dyslexia a bit differently because of the way their native language(s) is structured. Here is a basic explanation of why Dyslexia may affect people differently based on the language(s) they speak.

Differences in Language Structure

English, for example, is a very irregular language. Most of the spelling rules have exceptions, and many words are pronounced differently than they are spelled. According to, when languages are “transparent”, it’s easier to learn how to read, write and spell in those languages. “Transparent” means that there tends to be more consistency between the phonemes (the sounds made by letters/characters) and graphemes (the letters/characters themselves).

“Transparent” and “Non-Transparent” Languages and How They Interact with Dyslexia

Whether a language is “transparent” or “non-transparent” might determine how easy it may be to learn to read, write, and spell in said language for a person with Dyslexia. For example, French is not considered to be a “transparent” language, according to Because there are a lot of different verb conjugations, and different letters can make different sounds/be silent at different times, this can cause confusion for people with Dyslexia when they are learning to read and write. English is also a great example of a language that is not “transparent”. Spanish, on the other hand, along with Italian and German, are “transparent”, because there is a great deal of consistency in the language between the phonemes and graphemes. Because there are fewer exceptions to the rules of “transparent” languages, they may be easier for people with Dyslexia to understand. 

Of course, Dyslexia affects everyone differently, but a person’s native language(s) can play a role in how they learn/struggle with language. I think the topic of how Dyslexia affects people differently depending on what language they speak is a very interesting and complicated topic (this is a very simple, basic, version), and hopefully continued research in this area can help us to learn more about Dyslexia in general.

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