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How to assist dyslexic students to memorise vocabulary in another language?

In this short video Margaret Crombie demonstrates how dyslexic students can use visualisation techniques to memorise vocabulary in another language.
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Judith, I know you’re not a French language teacher, and perhaps not even a French language speaker, particularly, other than maybe holidays and things. So if we think about a word which is confusable like, chevaux in French and cheveux– That’s a tricky one. Two very confusable words, and words that people with– students with dyslexia often get muddled up over. Chevaux– horses– and horses are animals. There’s chevaux. The tricky letter in chevaux, which gets mixed up with cheveux, is that A, and the E in cheveux. So the A– you’re thinking of horses, animals. Animals– it’s an A in chevaux. So that might help. Also visualisation– Judith, there’s the word chevaux, we’ve printed it out there for you in big letters.
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The principle of this is to print in big letters so that you can see the word. You can see the word chevaux there. Yes. OK. Now I’m going to ask you to visualise that word, to look at the word until you think you can see the word inside your head. You just keep looking at it. Look at it until you can visualise it. When you think you can visualise the word chevaux– and I’m going to work in the word chevaux just now. Look away and look up to that blank bit of wall up there. You’re looking up to the left there. Yeah. Can you see the word chevaux? Yeah. Great. Now the word chevaux, the first sound is, shh.
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What two letters are making that work? Now keep looking up there. OK. C-H. C-H are making that shh sound in French. Perfect. What’s the word that follows that C-H? E. And what comes after the E? V. OK. What colour are those letters in? What colour is the whole word in? Black. It’s all in black. OK. You can see the C-H-E-V up there? Yeah. What’s the letter that follows the V? It’s the A. OK. Look up there. And you see the– you see the A after the V. Yeah. And you tell me again, what colour is that in? Red. The A is in red? Yeah. Is the whole word in red? No. You’re seeing the A in red? Yeah.
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That’s brilliant because you’re thinking about the tricky letter there. That’s great. Make that A flash. In your mind, make it flash. Yeah. It’s flashing now. It is flashing now. That’s brilliant. OK. What colour is it flashing in? Red. It’s flashing in red? Change it. Make it flash in blue. Can you see it? Can you still see it? Yeah. Is it flashing? Yeah. Still flashing? Mhm. Flashing blue? Yeah. And it’s an A? OK. What are the two letters that come after that A? U and X. U and X– excellent. Because you’ve got a silent letter there at the very end of chevaux. Haven’t you? Yeah. And what is that letter? It’s an X. It’s an X. Absolutely. Keep looking up there.
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OK. See the X? Yeah? I can see that. Make it flash. Yeah. What colour is it flashing? Black. It’s flashing black? Change it. Make it flash red. Yeah. OK. Brilliant. Now, I want you to go back and spell the word. Keep looking at it. It’s in your mind. You’re looking at it in your mind. Spell the word chevaux. C-H-E-V-A-U-X. Excellent. Now I’ve just got to test you out. I don’t really want you to spell the word backwards, but– so that you can prove to me that you can still see the word, spell it backwards to me. X-U-A-V-E-H-C. Brilliant. Now I’m going to finish off by asking you to spell it forwards. C-H-E-V-A-U-X.
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Now hopefully, you will never again forget that, that word chevaux has A-U-X, and you don’t get it muddled up with the hair and the cheveux because you’re thinking about the horses, the animals, the A. You visualise the word. You have the spelling of the whole word in addition to the confusable element that is in the word. So we’ve actually dealt with two things there by getting you to visualise that and to work on it, not just to look at it and think you actually know how to spell it, but to actually prove that you have learned that word. So, excellent.

In this short video Margaret Crombie demonstrates how dyslexic students can use visualisation techniques to memorise vocabulary in another language.

Her examples come from French, but can be easily applied to other languages. As you watch the video, try to follow the suggested technique and visualise the words.

How did this technique work for you?

Do you think it would be helpful for your students?

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Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching

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