Aya Awwad - Second Language Acquisition, speech and language disorders

In this talk, Aya looks at the issues around second language acquisition for learners with speech and language disorders.

About the webinar

The subject of speech and language disorders is a highly discussed topic. Yet, it is usually related to first language acquisition. This study is conducted on the Palestinian society in which awareness of speech and language disorders is limited. According to a survey we conducted, 8 out of 10 people believe that Second Language acquisition for people who suffer from speech and language disorders is of great difficulty. This presentation aims at providing more information on the relation between speech and language disorders and second language acquisition.

This presentation is based on a research process that followed a qualitative design. Interviews with four pathologists and pathologist assistants were done. Also, cases of people who suffer different speech and language disorders were followed by the researcher by attending their therapy sessions for almost three months and talking to their parents, when possible. The observations and the interviews results were analyzed based on sociological and psychological bases.

The research was a humble attempt to answer the following questions: What are the reasons causing speech and language disorders? Is it possible for people with speech and language disorders to acquire a second language? What are the methods used in teaching L2 to people with speech and language disorders?

What are the problems they go through in the process of L2 acquisition? And what is the relation between age and L2 acquisition for people with speech and language disorders?

The presentation will provide an analysis of the research results, where it was found that speech and language disorders are caused by sociological, psychological, and medical reasons. Also, suffering from a certain speech or language disorder doesn’t eliminate the possibility to L2 acquisition, if it was taught through using various L2 teaching techniques. Yet, mentioned learners surely encounter sociological and psychological challenges during the process of learning a second language. Finally, it was found that age is negatively related to L2 acquisition for people with speech and language disorders.

We conclude that people with speech and language disorders can acquire a second language despite the social, psychological, and medical challenges they face. Thus, we prove that linguistic competencies can expand, according to the individuality of each learner who suffers from certain disorders. 

About the speaker

Aya studied English language and literature at Birzeit University in Palestine. She joined the British Council's teaching centre team in 2014, and has been teaching English language ever since. She is passionate about cognitive linguistics and enjoys researching the intersecting areas between linguistics, education, and neuroscience.

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