SpLD Assessments for Multilingual People

Assessing people who speak English as an additional language for dyslexia and other SpLDs

When a student is experiencing greater difficulties than we expect in learning English, or other subjects, sometimes it is worth investigating to see if there are any underlying cognitive differences, such as dyslexia. In many cases, students may be eligible for exam access arrangements or other forms of additional support. Even if no additional resources are available, it is always helpful to find out more about how they learn, and where their strengths and weaknesses are, so that teaching can be tailored to support them in their learning. This is where the CAML materials can be helpful.

The standardised assessment tools (that are commonly used with English-speaking learners) are not valid for use with people who are still learning English. The results of these tests will probably be misleading and unhelpful, as well as quite demoralising for the person concerned, so it is better to avoid them. Instead, the two CAML suites are designed specifically for use with multilingual learners.


CAML PlusCAML+ is the assessment tool designed for use with adult learners of English.

  • Material available to download from the website
  • Coverage of SpLDs apart from dyslexia, with more information about how they can manifest and affect learning;
  • Communication Bridges incorporated into the main booklet;
  • Some tasks suitable for small group assessment;
  • Advice on how to give feedback and explain SpLDs to learners from different cultural backgrounds;
  • Videos demonstrating how to use the assessment tasks.

Smith, A.M. (2015) Cognitive Assessments for Multilingual Learners PLUS. Lancaster: ELT well
Buy CAML+ from the ELT well shop.


CAML YLThe Young Learners’ CAML has been developed specifically for learners between the ages of 7 and 15. Features include:

  • Colourful and engaging assessment materials;
  • Game-like tasks that children enjoy completing;
  • Full instructions of how to use the tasks and interpret the findings;
  • Holistic assessment of strengths and areas of challenge;
  • Generation of a comprehensive cognitive profile from which appropriate interventions can be devised, and exam arrangements applied for.

Smith, A.M. (2015) Cognitive Assessments for Multilingual Learners -young learners’ version. Lancaster: ELT well
Buy CAML-YL from the ELT well shop.

The assessment process

Assessments are usually undertaken when a teacher has been observing a learner closely, and realises that there is something different about him or her. Here is an example of an observation record, that helps to make observation more systematic: CAML-yl observation

The first step in an ELT well assessment is the completion of a questionnaire by the person to be assessed (with the help of a parent or teacher if necessary), which informs the direction that the assessment will take, and which areas of cognitive function will be focussed on. Click here to see an example of a student questionnaire:  CAML-yl KS3 Student’s questionnaire. Teachers are also asked to give their opinions about how the learner is progressing.

The next stage is a face-to-face meeting at which a range of assessment tasks will be conducted, looking at aspects of cognitive function such as memory (pictured here) and information processing. shapes for visual assessment taskThe examiner collects information about the person’s experiences of learning as well as his or her daily routine and coping strategies, to help build a picture of how the person thinks and works. The meeting will usually take between 3 and 4 hours, and of course, if the person being assessed needs to take a break at any time, that is encouraged.

After the assessment

A report will be prepared in line with the purpose of the assessment, and this is usually available 2 – 3 weeks after the assessment (and very often sooner than this).

Giving feedback to the person being assessed, and explaining the implications of the findings, is an extremely important stage of assessment which is usually done by a familiar teacher or tutor. If you would like to know more about how to do this effectively, why not explore the half-day workshop that ELT well offers? However, if required, ELT well can help with this, and also advise on assistive technology or other materials and resources that may be helpful.

A full diagnostic assessment, including a comprehensive report, costs £350.00 plus travel costs. Please contact Anne Margaret to discuss your requirements.