Validation of a Screening Tool for Dyslexia in English among Arabic-Speaking University Students in the Gulf Area




dyslexia, dyslexia among Arabic EFL students, dyslexia among Arabic-speaking EFL university students, dyslexia screening, screening for dyslexia among Arabic EFL students


When teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) context, at times, dyslexic students may confound instructors at the lack of improvement in their English language ability. Such students may not have the specialist diagnostic assessment to access support services. A simple but inexpensive measure to screen for dyslexia would facilitate a more inclusive and equitable educational environment. This study examined whether an Arabic-translated version of a widely-used English L1 (first language) dyslexia checklist could identify Arabic L1 students who exhibited difficulties in English. Participants were 734 female EFL undergraduates studying EAP in one gulf university. The participants completed Arabic versions of the checklist. Using prescribed cut off scores, participants were divided into three groups: non-dyslexic, mildly dyslexic, and dyslexic. To validate the checklist, a subsample of 110 students were randomly selected for further assessment of dyslexia using the following indicators: word reading, pseudoword reading, spelling ability, phonological awareness, and rapid automatized naming skills. Results showed significant differences among the three groups for nearly all measures, suggesting that the Arabic translated checklist can be an easily administered, useful screening tool to identify Arabic L1 students who are at-risk of dyslexia in EFL.

Author Biographies

Shanthi  Tiruchittampalam, Nanyang Technological University

School of Humanities

Nanyang Technological University


Alistair  Ross, Nanyang Technological University

School of Humanities

Nanyang Technological University


Aboudan, Rima, Valsamma Eapen, Maryam Bayshak, Mouza Al-Mansouri and Marwa Al-Shamsi. (2011). ‘Dyslexia in the United Arab Emirates University – A study of prevalence in English and Arabic’. International Journal of English Linguistics, 1 (2): 64-72.

Almaazmi, Amna. (2013). Dyslexia in the UAE: Developing a framework for screening and support. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of Sheffield, England, UK.

Anthony, Jason and David J. Francis. (2005). ‘Development of phonological awareness’. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14 (5): 255-259.

Anthony, Jason, Christopher J. Lonigan, Kimberly Driscoll, Beth M. Phillips and Stephen R. Burgess. (2003). ‘Phonological sensitivity: A quasi‐parallel progression of word structure units and cognitive operations’. Reading Research Quarterly, 38 (4): 470-487.

Araújo, Susana Filomena Inácio, Ana Francisco, Luís Faísca, Karl Magnus Petersson and Alexandra Reis. (2011). ‘Component processes subserving rapid automatized naming in dyslexic and non‐dyslexic readers’. Dyslexia, 17 (3): 242-255.

Araújo, Susana, Alexandra Reis, Karl Magnus Petersson and Luís Faísca. (2015). ‘Rapid automatized naming and reading performance: A meta-analysis’. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107 (3): 868–883.

Beech, John and Chris Singleton (eds.). (1997). The Psychological Assessment of Reading. London: Routledge.

Beidas, Hanin, Asaid Khateb and Zvia Breznitz. (2013). ‘The cognitive profile of adult dyslexics and its relation to their reading abilities’. Reading and Writing, 26 (9): 1487-1515.

Bishop, Dorothy and Margaret Snowling. (2004). ‘Developmental dyslexia and specific language impairment: Same or different?’ Psychological Bulletin, 130 (6): 858-866.

Blachman, Benita A. (2013). Foundations of Reading Acquisition and Dyslexia: Implications for Early Intervention. London: Routledge.

Bryant, Dale N. (1975). Diagnostic Test of Basic Decoding Skills. New York: Columbia University Teachers College.

Cameron, Harriet and Karl Nunkoosing. (2012). ‘Lecturer perspectives on dyslexia and dyslexic students within one faculty at one university in England’. Teaching in Higher Education, 17 (3): 341-352.

Claessen, Mary and Suze Leitão. (2012). ‘Phonological representations in children with SLI’. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 28 (2): 211-223.

Donker, Monika, Evelyn Kroesbergen, Esther Slot, Sietske Van Viersen and Elise De Bree. (2016). ‘Alphanumeric and non-alphanumeric rapid automatized naming in children with reading and/or spelling difficulties and mathematical difficulties’. Learning and Individual Differences, 47: 80-87.

Dymock, Sue and Tom Nicholson. (2012). Teaching Reading Comprehension: The What, the How, the Why. New Zealand: NZCER Press.

Eisenmajer, Natasha, Nola Ross and Chris Pratt. (2005). ‘Specificity and characteristics of learning disabilities’. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46 (10): 1108-1115.

Genesee, Fred, Esther Geva, Cheryl Dressler and Michael Kamil. (2006). Synthesis: Cross-linguistic relationships. In Diane August and Timothy Shanahan (eds.), Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth, 153–183. London: Routledge.

Georgiou, George K., Rauno Parrila and Chen-Huei Liao. (2008). ‘Rapid naming speed and reading across languages that vary in orthographic consistency’. Reading and Writing, 21 (9): 885-903.

Geva, Esther and Zohreh Yaghoub Zadeh. (2006). ‘Reading efficiency in native English-speaking and English-as-a-second-language children: The role of oral proficiency and underlying cognitive-linguistic processes’. Scientific Studies of Reading, 10 (1): 31-57.

Geva, Esther and Yueming Xi. (2016). ‘Policy considerations in addressing the needs of L2 learners who may have dyslexia’. In Lindsay Peer and Gavin Reid (eds.), Multilingualism, Literacy and Dyslexia: Breaking down Barriers for Educators, 227-241. London: Routledge.

Gharaibeh, Mahmoud, Abdel Aziz Sartawi, Hamzeh Dodeen and Mohammed Alzyoudi. (2019). ‘Effects of rapid automatized naming and phonological awareness deficits on the reading ability of Arabic-speaking elementary students’. Applied Neuropsychology: Child, 8 (1): 1-13.

Gough, Philip B. and William E. Tunmer. (1986). ‘Decoding, reading, and reading disability’. Remedial and Special Education, 7 (1): 6-10.

Haight, Sherrel Lee. (2006). ‘Test Review: Wagner, RK, Torgesen, JK, and Rashotte, CA (1999). Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP)’. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 31 (2): 81-83.

Hanafin, Joan, Michael Shevlin, Mairin Kenny and Eileen McNeela. (2007). ‘Including young people with disabilities: Assessment challenges in higher education’. Higher Education, 54 (3): 435-448.

Hategan, Bodea, Carolina Anamaria, Dorina Anca Alaş and Florentina Moşneag. (2015). ‘Screening program in dyslexia for high school students’. Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies, 15 (1): 65-78.

Henderson, Cathy. (2001). 2001 College Freshmen with Disabilities: A Biennial Statistical Profile. American Council on Education, HEATH Resource Center.

Jones, Manon W., Holly P. Branigan and M. Louise Kelly. (2008). ‘Visual deficits in developmental dyslexia: Relationships between non‐linguistic visual tasks and their contribution to components of reading’. Dyslexia, 14 (2): 95-115.

Juel, Connie. (1988). ‘Learning to read and write: A longitudinal study of 54 children from first through fourth grades’. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80 (4): 437-447.

Juel, Connie. (1994). ‘At-risk university students tutoring at-risk elementary school children: What factors make it effective?’ In Elfrieda H. Hiebert and Barbara M. Taylor (eds.), Getting Reading Right from the Start: Effective Early Interventions, 39–62. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Kiely, Kim, Mary Luszcz, Olivier Piguet, Helen Christensen, Hayley Bennett and Kaarin Anstey. (2011). ‘Functional equivalence of the National Adult Reading Test (NART) and Schonell reading tests and NART norms in the Dynamic Analyses to Optimise Ageing (DYNOPTA) project’. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 33 (4): 410-421.

Kishchak, Victoria, Anna Ewert, Paulina Halczak, Pawel Kleka and Marcin Szczerbiński. (2023). ‘RAN and two languages: A meta-analysis of the RAN-reading relationship in bilingual children’. Reading and Writing, 1-31.

Levy, Philip and Harvey Goldstein. (2014). Tests in Education: A Book of Critical Reviews. Massachusetts: Academic Press.

Lindgrén, Signe-Anita and Matti Laine. (2011). ‘Multilingual dyslexia in university students: Reading and writing patterns in three languages’. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 25 (9): 753-766.

MacFarlane, Andrew, A. Albrair, Chloe Marshall and George Buchanan. (2012). ‘Phonological working memory impacts on information searching: An investigation of dyslexia’. Proceedings of the Fourth Information Interaction in Context Symposium, 27-34. New York: ACM.

Manis, Franklin, Mark Seidenberg and Lisa Doi. (1999). ‘See Dick RAN: Rapid naming and the longitudinal prediction of reading subskills in first and second graders’. Scientific Studies of Reading, 3 (2): 129–157.

McBride-Chang, Catherine and Franklin Manis. (1996). ‘Structural invariance in the associations of naming speed, phonological awareness, and verbal reasoning in good and poor readers: A test of the double deficit hypothesis’. Reading and Writing, 8 (4): 323–339.

Miles, Thomas. (1997). The Bangor Dyslexia Test. Cambridge: Learning Development Aids.

Moore, Karol, Jialin Lai, Juan Quinonez-Beltran, Kausalai Wijekumar and Malatesha Joshi. (2023). ‘A cross-orthographic view of dyslexia identification’. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 7 (2): 197-217.

Neilson, Roslyn Joan. (1998). Phonological awareness and the development of word identification skills. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

Neilson, Roslyn Joan. (2003). Sutherland Phonological Awareness Test-Revised. Jamberoo, Australia: Language Speech and Literacy Services.

Nelson, Helen Elizabeth. (1982). National Adult Reading Test (NART): For the Assessment of Premorbid Intelligence in Patients with Dementia: Test Manual. NFER-Nelson.

Nergård‐Nilssen, Trude and Charles Hulme. (2014). ‘Developmental dyslexia in adults: Behavioural manifestations and cognitive correlates’. Dyslexia, 20 (3): 191-207.

Nicolson, Rod, and Angela Fawcett. (1998). The Dyslexia Adult Screening Test. London: Psychological Corporation.

Norton, Elizabeth, Sara Beach and John Gabrieli. (2013). ‘Neurobiology of dyslexia’. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 30: 73-78.

Norton, Elizabeth and Maryanne Wolf. (2012). ‘Rapid automatized naming (RAN) and reading fluency: Implications for understanding and treatment of reading disabilities’. Annual Review of Psychology, 63 (1): 427–452.

Padeliadu, Susana, Vassilios Kotoulas and George Botsas. (1998). ‘Phonological awareness skills: Internal structure and hierarchy’. Selected Papers on Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, 12 (2): 81-96.

Patel, Mitesh, Måns Magnusson, D. Lush, S. Gomez and Per-Anders Fransson. (2010). ‘Effects of dyslexia on postural control in adults’. Dyslexia, 16 (2): 162-174.

Phillips, Sylvia, Kathleen Kelly and Liz Symes. (2013). Assessment of Learners with Dyslexic-Type Difficulties. California: Sage.

Pino, Marco and Luigina Mortari. (2014). ‘The inclusion of students with dyslexia in higher education: A systematic review using narrative synthesis’. Dyslexia, 20 (4): 346-369.

Pothos, Emmanuel and Jane Kirk. (2004). ‘Investigating learning deficits associated with dyslexia’. Dyslexia, 10 (1): 61-76.

Reid, Gavin. (2016). Dyslexia: A Practitioner's Handbook. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

Reynolds, Andrea Elaine and Markéta Caravolas. (2016). ‘Evaluation of the Bangor Dyslexia Test (BDT) for use with adults’. Dyslexia, 22 (1): 27-46.

Schonell, Fred J. (1950). Diagnostic and Attainment Testing: Including a Manual of Tests, Their Nature, Use, Recording and Interpretation. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd.

Singleton, Chris. (2004) ‘Using computer-based assessment to identify learning problems’. In Lani Florian and John Hegarty (eds.), ICT and Special Educational Needs: A Tool for Inclusion, 46–63. England: Open University Press.

Smythe, Ian and John Everatt. (2002) ‘Checklist for adults with dyslexia’. In John Mike and Lindsay Peer (eds.), The Dyslexia Handbook, 103-106. Reading: British Dyslexia Association.

Smythe, Ian, Robin Salter and John Everatt. (2004). International Book of Dyslexia. Chichester: Wiley.

Snowling, Margaret. (2000). Dyslexia. Oxford: Blackwell.

Snowling, Margaret, Piers Dawes, Hannah Nash and Charles Hulme. (2012). ‘Validity of a protocol for adult self‐report of dyslexia and related difficulties’. Dyslexia, 18 (1): 1-15.

Solari, Emily, Yaacov Petscher and Jessica Sidler Folsom. (2014). ‘Differentiating literacy growth of ELL students with LD from other high-risk subgroups and general education peers: Evidence from grades 3–10’. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47 (4): 329-348.

Stampoltzis, Aglaia, Elisavet Tsitsou, Helen Plesti and Rani Kalouri. (2017). ‘Personal, educational and psychological characteristics of university students with dyslexia and matched controls: A pilot study’. Innovative Practice in Higher Education, 3 (1): 91-107.

Treiman, Rebecca and Andrea Zukowski. (1996). ‘Children's sensitivity to syllables, onsets, rimes, and phonemes’. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 61 (3):193-215.

Vukovic, Rose, Alexander Wilson and Kevin Nash. (2004). ‘Naming speed deficits in adults with reading disabilities: A test of the double-deficit hypothesis’. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37 (5): 440-50.

Wagner, Richard, Joseph Torgesen, Carol Alexander Rashotte and Nils A. Pearson. (1999). CTOPP-2: Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing–Second Edition. Austin: Pro-ed.

Warmington, Meesha, Susan Stothard and Margaret Snowling. (2013). ‘Assessing dyslexia in higher education: The York adult assessment battery‐revised’. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 13 (1): 48-56.

Wilkinson, Gary and Gary Robertson. (2006). WRAT 4: Wide Range Achievement Test. Lutz, Florida: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Wolf, Maryanne and Patricia Greig Bowers. (1999). ‘The double-deficit hypothesis for the developmental dyslexias’. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91 (3): 415– 438.


Date of Publication


How to Cite

Tiruchittampalam, S., &  Ross, A. (2024). Validation of a Screening Tool for Dyslexia in English among Arabic-Speaking University Students in the Gulf Area. International Journal of Arabic-English Studies.



Table of Contents