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


  • @VERONICAJIMEENZ we run basically the same course every year, but it has evolved over time. Judit likes to add new things as she comes across them ;)

  • I'd like to thank all of you who joined us on this course this year, and participated so actively over the four weeks. It's been a genuine pleasure to read your comments about your students and the fantastic work you are doing. Such dedicated professionals!
    The mentoring team will be signing off now, but the course will still be accessible for a little while...

  • @ChristineFurness it's NEVER too late. I am now studying again (for an MSc, this time, in Speech and Language Therapy) and I'm so glad I took the decision to do it. (My auntie did her PhD in her 70s, if you need any more persuading :)

  • The discussions are all led by you - the participants - @KhedidjaTwomey , so thank you for that!

  • Great. Thanks for your contributions, too @ChristineFurness

  • @KMC some universities will accept prior knowledge and experience in lieu of a formal qualification. Keep looking - and remember that you can always ask! (Sure, they might say no, but then they might accept you!)

  • Good to hear @ConsolVilaRiera - self-esteem and self-belief are essential for successful learning!

  • That's a great take-away message @GinevraPieracci!

  • @VlasisManolias yes, there is a lot to digest! Take your time to review the material.

  • That's brilliant @EstelleFohr-Prigent . I hope your colleagues will join us next time.

  • Great to hear @GinevraPieracci - do tell your colleagues that we are hoping to be back next year. It would be lovely if they could join us.

  • I can only wish you well with that @HeatherPineault. We can only do what is possible within our contexts, with the resources we have and the time allowed. If we move towards implementing some inclusive practices, that is a big step forward. One step at a time!

  • I agree that texts about subjects that students are interested in are more motivating. Do you ever let your students choose their own texts or bring texts to class to share ?

  • Hmm. I understand the value of authentic material, @GinevraPieracci, but I think at some point we have to balance the benefits of having a text that students can realistically access vs the benefits of authentic literature. Is there some way that you could use texts written with accessibility in mind to pre-teach vocabulary etc, so that your students can...

  • Keep at it @GinevraPieracci ;)

  • Yes, and also music without words can be used to focus on particular aspects of phonology, @VlasisManolias - such as tempo or intonation.

  • Give it a go @HeatherPineault!

  • @GinevraPieracci I would not call myself a natural musician, either ;) But elements of music that appear in language are a good way in to talk about intonation (pitch change) or word stress (rhythm). Musical activities don't have to be songs, just focussing on one aspect of speech (like volume) can also be illustrated using music to start with.

  • @CeciliaD I would say that musical activities don't have to be songs as such - it could be focussing on an element of language (such as pitch change or volume or tempo) and those are things you can do with any age group and any number of learners.

  • Lots of ideas here @PärSehlström. How does dictation work for your dyslexic learners? Some people in the discussion have asked whether it is recommended for dyslexic learners - what is your experience?

  • Thanks for all of these examples, @TimEdwards. Do your learners all learn the IPA or do you have it up on the wall for reference?

  • I agree @PärSehlström and I think that having the chance to practice saying the word in a group is reassuring for some students - they don't have to get it perfect first time.

  • @SaymaArju that sounds interesting - could you elaborate a bit on how you run the clustering activity?

  • @LucieSkrcena Thanks for explaining all of that. You're right that sometimes we just plant a seed, and some learners will take a while to harvest the fruit. But they will, in time, given the right amount of rain and sunshine ;)

  • @XeniaSandor You cannot imagine how happy that makes us, to know that your students are supporting you in your efforts to improve your teaching practice. Sounds like you have developed some great relationships there!

  • Brilliant to hear your plans to adjust your practice @AndreaLord

  • great to hear you are incorporating your new-found knowledge already @MagdalenS

  • @PraneethaAkkala - good question! From memory, the last research I saw on this font was a bit inconclusive - some students like it and others don't find any benefit from it. It seems to be quite a personal choice which font is easier to read.
    Has anybody got any additional info on this?

    As a general rule, any sans-serif font seems to be easier for most...

  • And a big thank you to all of the participants who have made the course what it is ;)

  • @MagdalenS I wonder if it would be possible to give prior notice of vocabulary in a text you would be using in class? It could be given as homework to all the learners, to give dyslexic learners a chance to look it up, practice pronunciation etc. There would be no harm in checking round the class just before you go to the reading task, to make sure everybody...

  • True @AndreaLord - it could work with a large group. We could even get them to work in small groups to support each other with this.

  • Absolutely, @RyanHawkridge - when you know your learners you can pitch it at their level and to their preferences.

  • @GinevraPieracci sounds like you are doing a good job of raising #phonological awareness in this way.

  • Sounds like a great plan @KhedidjaTwomey

  • @HeatherPineault with a full class you might need a lot of popcorn! But I'm sure you could find ways to tailor these ideas to your context. The core elements are focus on a specific sound (in isolation and in word context), through multisensory activities, with lots of repetition in a way that is not tedious ;)

  • interesting @GinevraPieracci - thanks for sharing!

  • @KhedidjaTwomey you know your students, but it's always worth trying new types of activities even with older learners - they might love them!

  • @HeatherPineault I think it is never too soon to make sure that learners are developing the phonological skills they need for their new language. There is phonological processing required in whole words, and sentences, too. If you notice that some learners are not picking up the sounds (or stress or intonation), then definitely some focused practice would be...

  • @XeniaSandor great work there!

  • @GinevraPieracci well, that would be for the teacher to judge. In my experience, many dyslexic leaners could benefit from spending a bit of time on their handwriting - considering that dyslexia and dyspraxia often overlap ;)

  • Ah @SoniaX this is a familiar issue ;) It's harder as an adult to tune into new sounds. I think helping them to FEEL the difference in the mouth as they make the different sounds is useful: pointing out where the tongue is, what their lips are doing, how long they are holding it for etc. Then they need a A LOT of repetitive practice, first listening and...

  • It sounds quite systematic, and if it works for your students, then it works @XeniaSandor. For those students who don't seem to be finding it as useful, what are the challenges? and how could they be addressed? Is it a question of needing more time? Or working on a smaller bit at a time?

  • Yes @DimitraA I also came across it first in various coursebooks and it has really helped some of my learners remember (e.g.) which symbol is A (it's grey) and which is E (green).

  • Are you teaching Greek as a second /foreign language @VlasisManolias ? Interesting! I imagine Greek has a more regular sound-letter correspondence than English. Does that make it easier for your students?

  • I know @SabineN - there is a lot to take in. The first 4 weeks we are on hand to answer questions etc, but the course is available for a little while longer, so you can go back and review it in your own time.

  • It's true, @FakitsaMaria - being dyslexic is a bit like operating in a second language all the time! Thanks for joining the course.

  • lovely to hear! Thanks @SCopeland

  • Yes @ClaireGomez without the participants - and everything that you bring - there would be no course!

  • And good to have you along @BarbaraBianchi

  • thanks for sharing what you have got from the course @monicaCostantini . Way to go, yourself!!

  • Did you find what you were looking for?

  • Well said @KWolf !
    I agree that it is a bit dangerous to say 'never' @monicaCostantini - all dyslexic learners are different and you are right - some may want to read out loud, or enjoy the challenge of a dictation. They shouldn't be prevented from trying it, if they are happy to learn that way. It comes down to the relationship that you develop with the...

  • Keep up the good work @ClaireGomez

  • and thanks to you for your contributions, too!

  • That's lovely @KWolf - compassion is so important in every classroom interaction.

  • @NadineDAUGUET if we think of dyslexia as a cognitive difference that affects several different aspects of #processing (memory, speed of processing, phonological processing etc) then we see that it is not just a language issue. A person who is dyslexic is always dyslexic, it is a #life-long condition. It is not switched off when they start to use another...

  • Glad you enjoyed it @BarbaraBianchi

  • @FakitsaMaria yes, every learner is different, and every day is different. I think it is about knowing your learners. If you have a good relationship with them, you can ask them (privately) if they would like to read out loud, or you could arrange a signal so that they let you know if they decide they don't want to read out loud in front of the class. I'm sure...

  • Great strategies there @KhatiaSandodze I'm sure all your learners benefit from this.

  • Good points - thanks @RebeccaGeddes

  • That's a shame @ChristineFurness. Preparing dyslexic learners for exams is quite challenging: it's not just about them knowing the material - they have to know how to approach the exam, believe that they can do it, and then keep calm in difficult circumstances. Could your student have a second go?

  • Yes, we don't always have control over our teaching environments. We just have to do what we can, in the time that we have, using the resources that we have.

  • haha ;0 I know what you mean @ClaireGomez! We can't escape it - these chants / songs are really powerful learning tools.
    So many things stick in my mind that I never use. If only the important things would stick!

  • Yes @GaryRengifo-Hatton I think comparing features of L1 and L2 can be really useful.

  • I do agree with you @AndreaLord - in a large group you don't need to have a great voice ;)

  • Thanks @KMC

  • sounds like an interesting idea, @RyanHawkridge

  • Thanks for this clear description!

  • there's quite a lot of literature about using this kind of morphological approach @EstelleFohr-Prigent - interesting to hear that your students find it helpful. Do you think they have to be at a certain level before it becomes useful?

  • Sounds good @LucieSkrcena - can you give any examples of how you drill connected speech?

  • People have different opinions regarding multiple choice - it seems to be quite an individual thing, whether dyslexic people get on with it or not. Some say that it requires too much close reading to be fair to dyslexic learners, and that the 'distractors' are too confusing. Others feel that it helps to prompt their memories when they see the correct answer....

  • You know your students, and what they will be able to do @AndreaLord - you will need to adjust these activities to suit your teaching context.

  • You're right @GaryRengifo-Hatton - our students are not your students, so everything that is suggested in this course will need to be adapted to suit your context / learners.

  • Yes, @SilviaAvigdor the two girls in this video are Greek-speaking children. In the 'English Sounds Fun' programme, they spend some time learning how to form the English letters clearly, so that they can be proud of their handwriting (sometimes more so than their Greek handwriting!)

  • Interesting @LucieSkrcena What is your colour system for the alphabet?

  • Yes, Anastasia often works with older teenagers who have gaps that need filling in. I know she uses these 'English Sounds Fun' materials too. They might know some of the vocabulary and even some of the grammar, but they've never been able to see how it all fits together until they start this systematic multisensory programme.
    (She regularly has mothers in...

  • Great that you are considering how to adapt the activities for your context @GaryRengifo-Hatton

  • yes - that's a really good point @AndreaLord: students don't even realise they are working really hard!

  • @NadineDAUGUET I understand your concerns. Time is very short, and precious. But the thing is, that the most time-efficient way of working is to work in the way that suits your learners best. So if that is bingo, or another game, then that is not a waste of time, but time well spent. If the students grasp the idea / remember the exceptions to the rules / learn...

  • @KMC Really interesting - thanks for sharing this experience!

  • @SabineN thanks for sharing!

  • I hope they enjoy them @ShaliniRaju!

  • great idea @FakitsaMaria - a little often is usually the most effective way to learn.

  • @CharlieBerney thank you for sharing this course with your trainees - we are hoping to be back next year, and maybe some of them will join us then.

  • Please do tell your colleagues about the course @SabineN - hopefully we'll be back next year for another run.

  • That is great to hear @NoomiHalonen - thanks for letting us know that you are already implementing what you have learnt here.

  • Is it then time for reasonable adjustments? Is that a possibility in your context?
    Or going back to basics and filling in any gaps in phonics knowledge?
    Feel free to give us more details, @JessicaLeslie and see if anybody has any further ideas.