DOES SINGLISH HURT SPELLING? IMPACT OF COLLOQUIAL ENGLISH ON THE LITERACY ABILITIES OF SINGAPOREAN STUDENTS WITH DYSLEXIA

J.L.J. Tan, P. Kurusamy

Dyslexia Association of Singapore (SINGAPORE)
In multicultural Singapore, there exists a colloquial form of English, known as Singlish that is heavily influenced by other Asian languages. This unique language situation has made teaching English language a challenge. Research has shown that teaching systematic phonics is an effective approach for students with dyslexia, a specific learning difficulty commonly associated with weaknesses in phonological processing. However, little is known about colloquial English and its impact on dyslexia. This case study aims to identify the relationship between Singlish and the literacy abilities of 15 elementary and secondary students with dyslexia who have received at least a year of phonics intervention. The students are from different socio-economic backgrounds and have varying language proficiencies. A range of tasks were administered to assess their reading, spelling, written as well as oral abilities. A miscue analysis was later done to identify the types of errors made such as vowel substitutions and omission of ending consonants. Results showed that when Standard English was used as the medium, spelling accuracies improved when contextual sentences were provided as opposed to spelling words in isolation. This study has implications for English language teachers worldwide as the findings demonstrate the challenges faced by students with dyslexia in the learning of English using a phonics approach in a multilingual society.