further behind until it is too late to catch up. On the other hand, if indeed a student doeshave a learning disability and not a second language acquisition issue, they too can fallfurther and further behind.So we must understand more clearly the issues involved when differentiating between alearning disability and a second language acquisition issue. Both to help stem the over-referral of ELLs and also to correctly diagnose student learning disabilities. The questionis, how? Is a student who is having difficulties remembering words or writing basicsentences in English, just in need of specific English language learning attention or dothey really need special needs assessment and treatment? How do we as teachers decide?There are many important considerations that must be made.
The L1 – L2 Relationship – What causes the difficulty?
It is important to note “what” causes the difficulty in learning a language. This will helpus as teachers eliminate a lot of false notions when looking for the cause of an ELL’sdifficulty in our classroomThere have been a lot of causes attributed to language acquisition difficulties, mostnotably; anxiety, motivation/effort, learning habits and “low” ability. However, these aremost often just masks hiding the real problem. Dinklage (1971) studied why some greatstudents at Harvard had problems learning a language. It didn’t seem right that suchexcellent students would fail miserably at language. He found out that the cause was notthose normally assigned (effort, motivation, anxiety, access, strategies) but rather one of