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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > Dyslexic students    

Dyslexic students


Dyslexic students

Hi dear esl-printables friends,

For those who have been on summer vacation, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

This school year I�m going to teach English to a group of 6 severe dyslexic teenagers.

I wonder if there is someone who has experience teaching dyslexics. I was told that I mainly have to focus on their oral communication.

I �ve already downloaded Jamiejules wonderful contribution "guide to understanding dyslexia".

Do you have some advice, ideas or resources that can help my ss?

Thank you in advance.



13 Aug 2011      

maryse pey�

As far as I can help you I was said to write in LARGE AND BIG letters when you are obliged to write. Take books with only a few text on the pages in order to make them pointing out the syllabus or the sounds you are reading or they are reading.
Write on the blackboard the difficult words separating the syllabus or the sounds. In fact I have noticed (with some of my students) that little by little this method helps them.
When you ask them to write tell them about the hand they are writing with or not to help them in space recognition.
Try to illustrate each sound, each letter with an illustration that will be meaningful for each of your students.
For example you can draw the letter E in an Egg for one and draw an Eagle with one wing being an E...
You must be patient. These students are often hard-working kids. If they are angry it is often after themselves because they are feeling their handicap as a very painful lack of self control and power on their knowledge.
You can make them cut letters in different colored shapes and play as if words were jigsaw puzzles. Some may prefer make them in clay.
Make them create the most possible means to help them. They will be proud to finally be trusted.
Of course some errors may be longer than others to be �erased �, �cancelled � from their memory but always encourage their efforts, their improvement as little as it can be.
These students are capable of miracles if you strongly believe in them. Never focuse on their errors, tell them that they can even learn from these errors. They must be convinced you trust them and not that you pity them. Each improvement will be offered you as a grateful present and will appeal new positive attitude.
Hope my humble experience (my students were not severe dyslexic) may help you.

13 Aug 2011     

United States

I teach at a school for students with specific learning disabilities (mostly dyslexia and ADHD), and my students use a TON of manipulatives.  Not just with math, either.  I teach Arts & Humanities, so I don �t actually instruct them in language arts, but I have seen what they do in other classrooms and it �s really effective.  "Phonemic awareness" and "decoding" are huge buzz-word in our school, and most of the work I see them doing has to do with sounds vs. syllables.  For example in the word "bank" there is only 1 syllable, but there are 4 sounds "buh-aye-n-k".  When they use manipulatives, they are often using scrabble tiles and spelling words.  The students see it as a game and the teachers can visually see their thinking process.  I �ve also seen them use magnetic letters on a metal tray, and dry erase boards. 

Hope this helps!

13 Aug 2011     


thanks for your lovely comment on my work!
Over the years I have realised that with many dyslexic teens their parents have a predominant role. I have tried to create some relationship with them: mainly to unstress them: most dyslexic kids go and see a speech therapist and it is drilled in the parents � and kids � head that English will always be hell for them because of the descrepency between the written and spoken word!
the very step is I think to talk with the parents and explain how you will try to help their child.
Then when you set them homework make sure you write in their diaries.
When I give a class some homework I might ask them to complete a ws of say 8 sentences. I used to say to the dyslexic kids to do the first four but they always came with the 8 done (which took them ages at home because their parents thought that they should do the same as every other student.)
Now I cut the ws so that they only get 4 (or create a different one). they don �t stress as much and their parents are not on their backs all evening long!This is just one many things but it is an important step towards trust and understanding of all parties. (They can also record their voice and hand that to me for their essays for instance...)
there are many sites on the net about dyslexia and numbers of books written on the subject...
Hope that helps
have a nice day!

13 Aug 2011     


Dear Elizabeth,
I teach English and Portuguese and I have had some dyslexic students. I have got a dyslexic daughter who is 11 years old and is going to the 6th. year in September. So, I deal with dyslexia everyday at school and at home. All you want to know you can send me a PM or email and I answer you. My daughter learnt to read Portuguese with a specific method in Portugal for dyslexic children, she couldn �t do it any other way. She has been worked a lot with the association of word and image, and it has been a long journey... She started learning English a year ago, so this association is very important, and also I have to repeat a lot the same exercises with her, and always do them with images to help understanding. The exercises can �t be very long and difficult, the writing doesn �t matter, unless the child can �t see very weel which isn �t the case of my daughter, but what we have to do is separate the lines. For example a worksheet should not have much writing, because it gets confusing for the child. She also gets very tired quicker than other children, so we have to work more practice and less theory. We have to motivate a lot a say to these children that their improvement is great, because they feel worse that the other children because of their grades, but usually the dyslexics are very intelligent.

13 Aug 2011     

United States

There are many forms of dyslexia - both auditive and visual. You have to find out which form they have. You should have a diagnose - that would help.
Try getting in contact with people and institutions that work daily with this problem.
You don �t need to invent the wheel.

You can find contacts here:


or Ordblindinstitutet here:


and ordblindefterskoler:


I hope you get a course in this because to really help, you need tools.

best wishes L

13 Aug 2011     


We had a teacher from a private school for dyslexic ss in the US. She delivered a workshop for us and some of the principles they use for native-speaking dyslexic ss work for foreign language learners. So here �s their website http://www.landmarkschool.org/ maybe you �ll find something useful.

13 Aug 2011     


Dear Maryse, Jennifer, Jamie, Sandy, Lisa and Sophia,

Thank so much for all the excellent advice and ideas you have given me.
They are of big help for me to get started with my ss.


13 Aug 2011