Date of Graduation

Spring 5-19-2023

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)


School of Education


Teaching English as a Second Language

First Advisor

Luz Navarrette García


Specific learning difficulties (SLDs), including dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders, are significant factors that influence the way and rate at which students learn English as an additional language. However, few Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) training programs address the cognitive and behavioral strengths and challenges these conditions carry for adult learners, in part due to concerns about bias in the over- and under- identification of learning disabilities among K-12 English language learners. Informed by Critical Disability Theory, and framed within a realistic discussion of the obstacles that remain in identifying and researching the parallel adult population and their learning needs, this thesis argues that all students in an English as a Second/Additional Language and English as a Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) classrooms benefit when SLDs are more readily recognized and teachers have a repertoire of research-backed, inclusive teaching strategies to draw on. The field project responds to this need for training with a teacher guidebook that explains U.S. legal requirements concerning students with disabilities, the effects of SLDs on second language acquisition, and the uses and limitations of current screening tools for SLDs in adult ESL/EFL populations. The guidebook also provides an annotated bibliography of effective adaptive and inclusive teaching strategies. Informed teachers will be better able to understand student needs, set realistic program and individual goals, participate in holistic identification processes, adopt effective teaching strategies, and serve as advocates for this understudied group of learners.