10 tips for teaching languages to dyslexic learners

Over the past ten years I’ve taught several students who have been dyslexic. Although learning a language is challenging for everyone, it can be particularly daunting for people with a learning disability. However, if you adapt general language learning techniques it has been proven that even those with dyslexia can learn to communicate effectively in another language.

Here are some tips for helping people with dyslexia learn a language:

1. Use enlarged print. Learners often benefit simply by seeing text in a larger font size.

2. Use colour coding. e.g. pink for feminine nouns and blue for masculine nouns.

3. A structured approach. Organise text in the same order; for example, keep vocabulary on the right of the page in one colour and font, grammar on the left in another colour and font.

4. Visual approach. Use flashcards to focus on learning through pictures rather than lists of words.

5. Use audio and video. Follow each topic up with mp3 recordings of key words and phrases rather than expecting students to memorise written lists. There should be greater emphasis on speaking, listening and “doing” rather than learning through grammar and written exercises. Role-plays are a particularly good way to get learners to actively participate in using the language.

6. Encourage the retention of vocabulary through word association. By linking words with other words in English, however silly the connection, this will be easier for dyslexic learners to retain for longer.

7. Use rhymes and chanting of phrases in a certain order to help learn new words and phrases.

8. Regularly check over any written work to make sure everything is spelt correctly.

9. Keep students motivated by finding out their interests and how they learn best. They will be much more willing to learn and improve if they are interested in what they are studying. The more creative and dynamic the lessons are, the more they will gain from them and progress.

10. Collaboration. All dyslexic learners are different and learn in different ways. By working with the student on an individual basis and finding out what works best for them is the key to their success. It is also a good idea to seek advice from other teachers, teaching assistants, dyslexic students and their parents to share ideas.

For more information about dyslexic learners and teaching advice for the classroom, read: http://www.englishclub.com/learning-difficulties/dyslexia.htm

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