Auditory Processing Disorder And A Second Language

April 17, 2013 by DrDonna

Auditory Processing Disorder And A Second Language

Learning a second language can be a challenge and undermine learning

auditory processing disorder second languageYou’ve heard the claims made by many people  – both parents and education specialists: if your child learns a second language at school, he’ll have an advantage over other students in years to come. For children with auditory processing disorder second language learning however is fraught with risk.

The argument for learning a second language at a young age is familiar – -it’s easier for them to learn a second language as a child because their brain is growing faster and it’s more flexible when they are children than when they are older or are adults. This idea was based on research from the 1960s.

The time that a child should learn a second language is debatable. Researchers Stern, Burstall & Harley in 1975 followed 17,000 British schoolchildren learning French and discovered that older children are better at learning a second language than younger ones. In the 1980s, Genesee found that children learning a second language in grades 7 or 8 had scores on language proficiency equal to those who started learning in kindergarten or grade one.

Several studies have found that younger children pick up on native accents in a language better than older children. Pronouncing words depends on not only the ability to hear them but also the ability to speak them correctly.

And that’s the point here – that for students with auditory processing disorder second language sounds are not easily heard. In fact, children with CAPD aren’t hearing the sounds of the words in the first language either.

How much can a young brain with and without APD handle at one time? If the child has auditory processing disorder, then all the good intentions in the world won’t help the child learn the new language. It would be setting the child up for failure.

Learning a second language can undermine learning

Languages have different sound patterns that have to be learned by the brain. Thus new sounds from another language could alter how English sounds are heard and spoken. Learning a first language is like learning to put on and tie your shoes; learning a second language is learning how to become a marathon runner. If you don’t have your shoes on right, you can’t run the marathon.

Does your child have APD? If so, think twice about the idea of having him or her learn a second language. Let’s focus on getting the shoes to fit.

Build English language proficiency with the auditory processing disorder treatment at Gemm Learning.