Why do dyslexic learners often have problems with reading and writing?
- Dyslexic learners seem to process written and spoken language
- They are usually not aware of separate sounds in words (lack of
phonological awareness) and may not perceive the symbols (letters) that
make up words on a page as real or meaningful (visual processing
- Even dyslexic learners who are good at reading may have difficulty
with small confusable words.
- Dyslexic learners are often visual thinkers and need to link
words to images to make them memorable.
- Dyslexic learners may have problems tracking print and reading black
print off a white page.
In the classroom: Do I have to teach the dyslexic student differently?
Yes, if what you are doing isn't working - as with any
student. However, fortunately, the best
way to teach dyslexic students is the best way to teach the whole class.
Multi-sensory teaching methods are the best.
In the classroom, students are likely to learn mainly through three senses:
- auditory - speaking and listening
- kinaesthetic - through doing a task: handwriting, cutting/pasting, modelling
All teaching sessions should provide opportunities to
learn through these three channels as students will have their own preferred
How can I help with reading?
- enable students to read off coloured paper or use a coloured
overlay: yellow and blue are useful but preference will be individual.
Cerium Visual Technologies is a good source of coloured overlays, www.ceriumvistech.co.uk,
- use coloured plastic wallets
cut up, from any stationers
- Use tracking exercises. Make up your own sentence tracking sheets
on topical matters.
An example tracking exercise can be found in the 'Reading' seciton of the Skillswise 'Lessonplans' area.
(Ann Arbor Publishing Limited also produce tracking material, www.annarbor.co.uk)
- Encourage students with tracking difficulties to use a line guide:
coloured perspex ruler or similar, or card cut out to the correct size of
the column to be read. (This helps with reading newsprint.)
Presentation of text is very important:
- use a sans serif font: Arial, Tahoma, Comic Sans
- make headings stand out
- do not capitalise first word on a line, unless grammatically
- do not justify right-hand margins
- space information clearly
- use 14 font minimum
- use colour and appropriate images to help student find information
- box information to make it stand out
- do not try to fit too much information on a page
- do not double-side; use two separate sheets (even if it is bad for
- do not write all in capitals; lower case words are easier to read.
How can I help with spelling?
Ways to anchor spellings
(All solutions are best thought out by the student
with tutor help if necessary.)
- Try a picture of 1 Coffee and 2 Sugars (1 'c' and 2
- Look at the part the student gets wrong; get them to highlight it
- Use colour to break words into syllables: sep ar ate.
(Use 'How many times your chin drops' to count syllables. Some
students cannot hear syllables.)
- Find words within words and link with an image: bus in ess
- Teach root words then prefix and suffix: re member ing
- Change the look of the word div / ide
d ivi de
- 'Difficult to spell' address words can be given an image and
modelled (3D) in clay with the word in clay (lower-case) underneath the
model. e.g. one student represented the word 'avenue' by modelling two
lines of trees with an arrow in between, pointing to the word 'avenue'
modelled in clay in lower-case letters.
- Encourage students to visualise whenever they try to spell a word.
- For kinaesthetic learners get them to trace, write and/or model
words many times.
- Say the word wrongly (for old chestnuts like 'Wed nes day').
- do not teach homophone/homonyms together e.g. 'where' and 'were'. Teach in
families instead e.g. here, where, there.
Colour and image are the best tools to work with.
How can I help with writing?
Dyslexic students are understandably reluctant
writers. They worry predominantly about spelling.
- TELL THEM NOT TO WORRY ABOUT SPELLING.
- Give them stimulating, real-life, relevant things to write about.
- Use discussion, whole class planning, brainstorming on the board.
- Use a variety of planning tools: Mind Maps, flow charts, writing
- No one writes a perfect first draft.
- Be enthusiastic/inspirational. You will initially be the source of
- Entry level spelling does not mean the content of the writing will
be Entry level.
- Keyboarding can be a multi-sensory activity: look at the word, say the letters as your
fingers do the typing.