What Teachers Need to Know About Language Disorders – We Are Teachers

Hello everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. The year is coming to an end (here in Korea, at least), and I’ve been busy with year-end work and preparing for the upcoming (new) semester beginning in March.

I was browsing We Are Teachers and found an excellent article I want to share. Whether you teach in mainstream classrooms, ELL-only, or mixed classrooms, I’m sure you’ve encountered students who may show signs of a language disorder. I have had a few myself who seemed to fit the bill.

This article, by Jill Staake, gives lots of helpful information, infographics, and strategies to learn about and accommodate for students who (may) have a language disorder. I’ll link to the full article at the end of this post, but I want to share a few key things here.

What are language disorders?


Source: Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists

From the article itself:

Language disorders refer to a condition when a person has difficulties learning, using, and/or understanding spoken or written language. They fall under the larger umbrella of communication disorders, but are distinctly different from speech disorders like lisps or stuttering.

*With ELLs, it may be harder to diagnose if he/she has a language disorder if it’s not present their first language. 

Also from the article:

Language disorders can be acquired at any time during life, usually caused by brain injury or illness. For most children, though, language disorders are developmental. The exact causes of developmental language disorders are unknown, though heredity and prenatal nutrition deficiencies are both possible suspects. Children with language disorders may also have related conditions like autism, dyslexia, ADHD, and mental health issues. They usually have average or above-average intelligence.

What do language disorders look like?


Source: Boys Town National Research Hospital

The article gives more detailed information about identifying disorders in students, which I will not share here. You can read them in the full article.

Lastly, the article gives some support suggestions. I’ll list them, but you should read the full article for more detailed information.

How can you support children with language disorders?

  • Be patient
  • Allow them to prepare
  • Model behaviors
  • Give directions differently
  • Be direct
  • Accept silence

I highly suggest reading the full article on We Are Teachers if you want to know how to identify and  help students with language disorders.

Full article: https://www.weareteachers.com/language-disorders/


Filed under Early Childhood, Education, Language, learning, Learning Disorder, Special Needs, Teaching

2 responses to “What Teachers Need to Know About Language Disorders – We Are Teachers

  1. elsahedrick

    Incredible! This post is coming to me at a challenging time in my life as a mom AND a language teacher…My daughter just turned 3 and she attends a Spanish immersion school three days a week. She was an early talker (9mos.), but recently we have noticed a lag in her communication skills. She responds to most questions, but cannot answer (or ask) a “why” question, and she rarely initiates new conversation topics on her own. There is a lot of echolalia going on, as well. We are questioning whether it is because of her dual language exposure, or something more clinical. As a language teacher myself, I know that growing up bilingual is a definite advantage, but it’s hard as a parent when you see your child become insanely frustrated at her inability to communicate her thoughts and feelings. It’s enough to make us consider enrolling her in a regular English speaking school! It was good to read up on some of the challenges that can arise from language disorders in the classroom.


    • Thanks for your comment and insight into your own experience. I am a language teacher myself, but I teach abroad. My students are ELL, and I think some may have a language disorder. A few cannot communicate effectively in their first language or in English as well as their peers. It’s difficult, though, as where I teach has little to no support for those students. Many parents don’t want to address the issue either. I do my best when I teach them, but I cannot do it all.


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