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Multisensory tasks for teaching spelling

Multisensory tasks for teaching spelling
The activity Step by Step is a pronunciation and spelling activity. The aim is to help students with the pronunciation and spelling of those words that they may find difficult. The activity takes approximately 20 minutes to carry out, but it may depend on the number of students you have. It’s an individual work, and the whole group work as well. As for the preparation, take as many sheets of paper to the lesson as many students you have. Take many brush pens with you, and take many pairs of scissors. To carry out the task, first, tell the students to choose a word from the word book, from the latest topic or from their exercise books that they may find difficult to write.
Give the sheets of paper and the pens to the students. You can give the scissors as well. Tell them to write the words in capital letters– in large capital letters– and when they are ready, they should raise the word cards up. Raise the word cards. I pronounce the word. The whole class repeats it together. And after, only the person repeats whose card it is. Communication. Repeat together. Communication. Borbala. Communication. Thank you. Put it down. Opinion? Opinion. Judit. Opinion. Thank you. Put it down. Now, cut the words into letter cards. Now, tell the students to put the letter cards into order to make the word. They should self-check themselves from the book or from where they copied the words from.
Of course, the teacher goes around and double checks the students and gives them some help if they need it. After a couple of minutes, go to a student who you feel is the most confident, take the letter cards, and put them on the floor. Here now, I’m going to work with the students on the table. Put the letter cards in a way that they shouldn’t be chaotic, because dyslexic students may get lost when they are surrounded with unconnected letters.
But some challenge should be given. Tell the students to walk through the individual letters to connect them and to create the word. Judit.
Thank you very much. Very good. Put the word on the blackboard, please. When all the students’ words are on the blackboard, go to the blackboard, point to a word, and the student whose word it was to repeat it. Judit. Opinion. Very good. Then you need to collect the letter cards from the blackboard, go to her place, and once again, she’ll put the letters into order to create, to form, the word.
The title of this task is Similar Words. And the aim of it is to help dyslexic students distinguish similar words in terms of both sound and form. This might be extremely challenging for them and might lead to confusions in communication, misinterpretations, miscommunication in reading, speaking, and writing as well. So that’s why it’s very important for dyslexic students to make them more conscious about form and meaning. This particular task can be done with any kind of student, regardless of their age or level. The allocated time to this exercise depends on the amount of practise you intend to do with the students.
As for preparation, what you need to do is to select the most difficult words your students are struggling with, maximum two or four pieces, to avoid confusion and to make them comfortable with the intended vocabulary items. And then, just prepare a set of cards to each student. And what is important is to colour code the words as well because it makes the students more comfortable with reading. So what I did in my case is I selected three words. The first one was bear, the second one, beer, and the third one, beard. And then I distributed the cards to each student and then pronounced the words one by one and asked the students to point at the correct card.
Or if it’s a whole class task, then you can also ask the students to hold up the cards quite easily. So the first step is to pronounce the words one by one and make sure that they get the correct card in their hands. As a second step, you might check the meaning of the words in their native language. Like literally word for word, just check the word in the native language and they will hold up the appropriate card. For the third step, you should put the words in example sentences and the students are asked to do the same, holding up the appropriate word. For instance, yesterday afternoon I saw a bear in the zoo.
Or Joan asked for a pint of beer in the pub. Or I don’t want to grow a beard, for instance. And as a final step, if you still have some more time and you want students to practise a little bit more, then you may ask them to create funny sentences and provide drawings for them. For instance, I saw a bear with a beard drinking beer last night. And practically that’s it. So it’s quite short and really useful and makes them more comfortable with all the sounds and form variations.

In this video two teachers, Gabriella Dóczi Vámos and Orsolya Szatzker, share with you how they help dyslexic language learners to remember and spell similar sounding words and how they teach the spelling of difficult words.

  • What is your view of these tasks?

  • Would you use them in your context?

  • How would you adapt them?

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Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching

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