Anne Margaret Smith

Anne Margaret  Smith

Anne Margaret is an English language teacher and a dyslexia assessor. She founded ELT well to bring together these two fields of education and offer training and advice to professionals on both sides.

Location Lancaster


  • @EmokeFekete I think English Sounds Fun might be good for you. It comes with really detailed instructions for novice teachers / parents. Your son might already know some of the words, but that's fine. He can focus on the sounds and spelling patterns.

  • Emma, are you talking about your task in week 3 that you've had no feedback on? Let me know which is yours and I'll take a look.

  • Good to hear @LenkaHrůzová And remember, that sometimes we have dyslexic learners in our class who have not yet been identified, so its good practice to teach as if you have dyslexic learners there ;)

  • Sounds like a good plan, @LenkaHrůzová sometimes, comparing two confusing words and spending time thinking about the difference is exactly what learners need.

  • exactly @AbhimanyuSharma - and we don't always know when we have neurodiverse learners in or class (sometimes they are not aware!) so best practice is to assume that there students who would benefit from a multisensory approach.

  • Great to hear @LenkaHrůzová !

  • It may need to be adapted for larger classes. Maybe they could compare note in small groups?

  • great insight there @AlmudenaMartínez

  • I think that would be the role of medical professionals, rather than teachers.

  • Great idea!

  • HHmmm - yes. But perhaps the underpinning principles could be realised in a different way, more suitable for your learners?

  • Totally agree @MariaMadalenaBatim - getting to know our learners is crucial to know which strategies to use and how to implement them.

  • Maybe something the teacher could help with?

  • Thanks for the feedback @HelenROGERS It is possible to download the sound files and play them at a different pace using an app like audacity, if that might help?

  • Yes @NickyL it can be helpful to get an overview of what learners arriving in the UK can do, what they find easy and what they find challenging.

  • I know that feeling @HelenROGERS Stick with us, and hopefully by the time you get to the end of the course you will have a clearer idea of how to work with neurodiverse learners.

  • Interesting @CaraByleveldt. And yes - dyslexia / neurodiversity is REALLY complex. The more I learn the more I realise I don't know!

  • You're right @CaraByleveldt - lack of vocabulary can play a massive role in low levels of reading comprehension and so can cultural background knowledge.

  • @HninHayman I would suggest that there is nothing a dyslexic learner cannot do, given the right access to education. It's sad to hear that so many dyslexic children give up on education - that is a lot of talent going untapped !

  • It took a long time, and a lot of campaigning!

  • Oh dear @RebeccaDoe - but then, it is intended to be all but impossible for most people, so we can all experience that frustration and stress.
    Sorry about that.

  • Well, we have finished this 4-week course for another year.
    On behalf of the team, I would like to thank everyone who took part, and especially those who have been so active in the discussion forum. It's such a joy to work on the course, and to read about other teachers' experiences and ideas. Every year I learn something new from this course, and am...

  • Great summary of the entire course there @MarionEngrand-O'Hara :)

  • Good that you feel more confident @EmmaT It's hard to cover everything in one course, but maybe you have made connections with other teachers teaching the same languages as you?

  • @EmokeFekete there are so many good resources already recommended on this course, that it would be hard to suggest more!. See the list at the end of this week, for example.

  • yes, I hate it when students drop languages because they're 'too hard'. Seems to me we just need to find the right way to teach them.

  • love that 'spot the difference' idea !

  • absolutely @UschiEnsel - small steps, building on what has been secured, lots of repetition, lots of fun, and following a well-planned route, whilst allowing for the student's interests, too. It sounds so easy ....

  • Interesting insights there @LizFishwick

  • There are. As long as we allow for the exceptions :)

  • It's all connected, isn't it - worth helping students to see the connections, I think.

  • Yes, all of these ideas can (should) be adapted to suit your context.

  • Our engaged participants are what makes this course so interesting. We all learn from each other. Thank you for your contributions.

  • Thank you for joining us @KarinS

  • Wow - that all sounds great @RuthR Glad to the hear the comic materials worked well for you. Keep up the great work!

  • Great that you have picked up on the two most important messages of the course @AbhimanyuSharma Good luck with your future teaching!

  • Thanks for your contributions, too @DairaRutaMorusa without participants discussing the issues and sharing their ideas, there would be no course!

  • Great - mix it up a bit @AbhimanyuSharma !

  • nice - thanks for sharing the color vowel chart - I'll have a look at that and think about how I might use it with some of my learners. Quite advanced vocabulary, but maybe for fine-tuning sounds?

  • Absolutely, I think that good practice is inclusive practice. So even if you only have a few learners who are (known to be) dyslexic, others might well enjoy a range of activities and benefit from (for example) really clear instructions, repetition of work covered before, taking smaller steps in the work progression, and all the other things that we recommend...

  • With my adult learners (Entry level ESOL) I did use the colour code when we were looking at the alphabet in class. We did different activities with it from what is shown here, but still the colour connection helped some to remember the names of the letters (especially the vowels).

  • I think that's a key point @DairaRutaMorusa - sometimes we have to choose to introduce less new material but spend more time reinforcing, repeating, reviewing... Better that the learners get a little really securely than be overwhelmed with so much that they end up being confident of nothing.

  • I think that many of the ideas presented in this course would need to be adapted for different contexts. Maybe focus on the principles and see how they could be embedded in your setting.

  • OOhh - great - thanks!

  • @SusanaBykov I half-remembered that NILE might do something, but I can't see anything at the moment. Let's keep our eyes open for such courses - then we could share if we find anything.

  • @SusanaBykov I know that you work with young adults in a business context. I also work with adults, some at university, others with less education.
    I'm not aware of any similar courses aimed at teachers of adults. I'm curious - what do you think would be different in a course solely focussed on adult learners?

  • true words there @JenniferMcCoy
    Language teachers tend to have enjoyed learning languages at school, just like maths teachers were good at maths. It's a great learning experience for teachers to put themselves on the other side of the desk once in a while.

  • Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Oh that's great @GillianLeigh - do let us know how it goes ;)

  • Nice ideas @IsabelNovelo

  • Sounds good @GillianLeigh
    (Just to clarify for anyone who doesn't know the system - Elkonin boxes are basically a one-row grid on a page, empty boxes, sometimes known as 'sound boxes', used to separate out the sounds in a word.)

  • Thanks for suggesting this, Jen, sounds good!

  • There has been some research into this, but the findings are not conclusive. Anecdotally, there are many people who do seem to benefit from changing the contrast between the background and the text, but the research does not support that as a recommended intervention. (I myself, when I am tired, print papers out onto coloured paper - I find it easier on my...

  • Ah - that's important to know - WHY what you are doing is right, so that in other contexts you can make good decisions. Good for you!

  • WOW - that is fantastic feedback Heather. So great to hear that you are already implementing things we have discussed here.
    Keep up the amazing work ;)

  • Great that you want to continue learning @HeatherSchweiker I would say, in the first place, explore the resources that we have recommended. You could also look at the dysTEFL course, that this course has referred to along the way. There is some overlap, but also different material there.
    Are you a member of a teachers' association? Ask them to organise a CPD...

  • So happy to hear that you felt comfortable on this course. Thanks for your contributions, too.

  • Yes, there are always ways to avoid the excruciating stress that some learners experience with reading out loud. Modelling each line, or reading together, practising silently or picking out tricky words and then connecting them to the words around them, building them back into their sentences... Whatever works for each student is the right thing to do :)

  • Good practice is inclusive practice ;)

  • This is lovely to read! Thanks for sharing @EvelineSanting

  • Interesting points here @AnnMorgan - although thinking about it, I have also had students who 'didn't like' something, but couldn't explain what or why. I suppose it may have been something quite subtle that I hadn't picked up on - the expression on a face in the illustration or something.

  • Great points here @EvelineSanting. First impressions really count when it comes to reading.

  • I agree, @AnnMorgan and making explicit the grammar rules behind the 'hunches' that learners follow can be really helpful.
    Good tip about numbering lines.

  • I also work with adults, and I still need to help some of them develop their awareness of sound-letter relationships. Some of them have never had that input - it's just been assumed that they would pick it up somehow. I use sets of letters to make words, and practice blending and segmenting, as well as games. Many of the techniques that we have talked about on...

  • The programme was designed for small groups or 1:1 teaching. But groups up to 5 or 6 could work, if you have enough letter sets!

  • good plan @DanDoidge !

  • I know @colintollervey that's what my students sometimes tell me. But I find that if the students make up their own, and we take time to talk about the story, maybe create an image to go with it, have a little giggle about it (if appropriate) it's more likely that it will stick. Also, it doesn't have to be for the whole long word, could just be a part of the...

  • I agree, Liz, sometimes we need to see something in action to properly appreciate it.

  • true @LucieMiller - and choice is a crucial element in developing learning autonomy.

  • You're right - choice is important to empower our learners.

  • yes, and they would be able to work independently - a strategy for life-long learning!

  • They are a really flexible resource @NgaManChan - I love them!

  • Secondly, this is a big question @KateBurley. I would say that because of the huge variation amongst neurodiverse people, there is unlikely to be one type of curriculum that suits them all best. It might be more about how flexible the setting is and how aware the teachers are of their learners. Thus, individual schools will have strengths and weaknesses as...

  • First of all, there are a lot of acronyms here - can I just check that I have understood them all?
    IPC = The International Primary Curriculum
    ENC = English National Curriculum
    IB = International Baccalaureate
    PYP = Primary Years Programme
    GCSE = General Certificate of Secondary Education
    MYP = Middle Years Programme
    Is that what you are referring to?

  • Interesting questions @DiellaBicaj I think that differentiation is especially useful in a large class, as we will almost certainly have a wide range of proficiency levels. I don't think I have ever had a student refuse support, but perhaps your experience is different.
    I think the key to inclusive differentiation is to offer everybody a choice of what they...

  • Yes @AdelaideHuago (reliable) access to the internet / electricity is one of those things that still needs work in some places. Good to keep that in mind - I always a have lo-tech substitute in reserve, just in case...