Judit Kormos

Saturday 19 June 2021

Engaging students with specific learning difficulties: Key principles of inclusive language teaching in a digital age

Learning in a classroom in face to face settings or online in a digitally mediated environment can pose challenges for all learners during these pandemic times. However, there is one group of language learners, students with specific learning difficulties (SpLDs), such as dyslexia, who might find it particularly difficult to cope with the new academic, emotional and social demands of this extraordinary situation. If teachers are aware of the variety of needs of students with SpLDs and are familiar with the means and techniques of inclusive language teaching, they do not only support those with SpLDs to become successful language learners but also create a pathway to higher language proficiency for all learners. In this presentation I will start with a brief overview of what specific learning difficulties are and what we currently know about their academic and emotional effects on learning additional languages. Then I will discuss the specific needs of language learners with SpLDs in studying online and in person classrooms during the Covid-19 crisis. I will give detailed suggestions on how we can create a nurturing digital and face-to-face inclusive language learning environment to ensure that all learners have equal chances to learn another language effectively.


Q & A Session

What got you interested in the field you’re involved in in ELT and what is it about this topic that inspires you?

Twenty years ago one of my students wanted to write their dissertation on dyslexia and language learning, and we found hardly any research on it at that time. We also realized that it is not only researchers who have neglected this topic but also teachers and educational policy makers had largely ignored language learners with specific learning difficulties. This has driven me to research the language learning processes of dyslexic language learners and at the same time I also started giving teacher education workshops in this area.

As our audience is so international, could you mention anything about countries you have lived and/or worked in?

The first 13 years of my teaching career was in the Hungarian higher education system and since 2008 I have worked at Lancaster University. In the autumn of 2020, I was a visiting professor at the University of Vienna. I have delivered teacher training workshops in a large number of European countries (e.g., Italy, Slovenia, Malta, Poland) and overseas (e.g., Sri Lanka).

Do you have a fun fact about yourself?

Over the past 6 years nearly 80,000 people have participated in the Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching Massive Open Online Learning Course that I have been running on the FutureLearn platform.


Judit Kormos is a Professor in Second Language Acquisition at Lancaster University and in the autumn term she is a visiting professor position at the University of Vienna. She was a key partner in the award-winning DysTEFL project sponsored by the European Commission and is a lead educator in the Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching massive open online learning course offered by FutureLearn.  She is the co-author of the book Teaching Languages to Students with Specific Learning Differences with Anne Margaret Smith. She has published widely on the effect of dyslexia on learning additional languages including a book entitled The second language learning processes of students with specific learning difficulties. She is the author of multiple research papers that investigate the role of cognitive factors in second language acquisition. She has been recently working on two Erasmus+ funded projects that have developed digital language learning tasks for inclusive language teaching.