It has been documented that the achievement in foreign language learning builds on the native language skills (Sparks & Ganschow, 1991). Therefore, it may be assumed that students with dyslexia will face challenges in the process of foreign language learning (ibid). These difficulties are frequently accompanied by emotional factors, such as low self-esteem, lack of motivation or high level of anxiety (ibid).
The current study presents the voice of students with dyslexia learning English as a foreign language. The main goal was to get an insight into how the students perceive their learning situation concerning the particular areas of the English language that pose most challenges, the emotional responses to these difficulties, and the perception of the role of their English teachers in shaping their learning experiences and impacting on learning achievement.To get the answers to the study questions, the research utilized semi-structured interviews with six participants from secondary schools who had the statement of dyslexia. For the purpose of the data analysis the phenomenological approach and hermeneutics were combined.
The findings revealed that the participants experienced a range of difficulties in their learning process. The most common areas of the English language which they found challenging were fluent reading and comprehension, spelling and memorizing new information.The data showed that the emotional responses did not relate directly to the difficulties in learning, but were the reaction to the way the teachers addressed these difficulties through their pedagogical decisions. The students related to specific pedagogical accomodations that they expected from their English teachers in order to succeed in the English classroom, feel motivated and keep positive attitude and low anxiety in learning. The central theme that emerged from the students’ perceptions of their English teachers was the lack of understanding which consequently was reflected in the important pedagogical decisions and attitude of the teachers.
Keywords: dyslexia; foreign language learning; the English language, students’ perspective; emotional factors; teacher’s pedagogy