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Developing dyslexic students’ reading skills

Developing dyslexic students' reading skills
Unit nine, Teaching Reading. Teaching reading in classes which include learners with specific learning differences should follow the procedure we’re familiar with from ELT methodology. However, we have to bear in mind the specific issues that dyslexic learners have. The intervention in lower order decoding processes should precede the work on the higher order decoding processes.
In practise this means that a teacher should provide scaffolding at a word level before the students begin to read texts. The teacher should introduce the words that might be problematic for the learners, practise the pronunciation, draw the student’s attention to the letter sound correspondence, and explain the meanings of the words clearly. Where we ask learners without SPLDs to predict some of the words from the context we could perhaps provide glossaries for dyslexic learners.
Having done the work on the lower level processes the students can proceed to the high order processing. Hear the students with SPLDs should focus on developing reading strategies that are not predominantly based on their linguistic awareness such as reading selectively, reading carefully in key places, monitoring comprehension, and using their background knowledge.
The pre-reading stage is very important for all the students because it should motivate them to read a text. For students with SPLDs this is the stage in which they should get the support. The teacher can introduce a few key words from the text and ask the learners to predict what text might be about. In this way the learners get involved. And they are motivated to find out whether their predictions were right or wrong. Similarly, the teacher can use sentences from the text or ask questions which the students can try to answer. In both examples the learners become familiar with the language before they read and they raise their expectations about the text.
It’s good practise for teachers to grade reading tasks. The first task should focus on global understanding. And the learners should use different contextual clues to do it, for example their background knowledge, knowledge about the layout of the text illustrations, and so on. The following tasks should gradually lead to more detailed understanding. It’s recommended to use multi-sensory tasks to check learners comprehension, eg students can draw an illustration to show that they’ve understood a story. Or they can act a part of a text. For younger learners using a shared reading approach can be beneficial as it demonstrates how an experienced reader reads. With older learners the learners should reflect on the reading strategies they use.
Learners with SPLDs should not be asked to read out loud. Teachers should do their best to promote the love of reading in different ways, for example by sharing their reading experience.
And texts can be used in a variety of ways for further language practise. Learners can retell stories based on pictures. They can use a short extract, perhaps dialogue, from the text and act it out. That can discuss the text. They can transform the text into a film. Very often the reading text serves as a model for writing or initiates writing. Students can even progress to self-publishing, that is typing their pieces of writing and making books using different computer applications.

In this video prepared in the framework of the Dystefl project Dr Anne Margaret Smith discusses how to develop dyslexic learners’ reading skills.

Please share any comments or questions you have about teaching reading students with dyslexia. Why not also tell us about the techniques and tasks you use?

The transcript of this video is also available in Spanish and Chinese.

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Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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