Dyslexia and language learning
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №12 - 2020
Tsuprunova Yekaterina, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
Oskolkova Anna, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
In modern world people
should know at least 1 foreign language. As all we know that English is a
language of cross cultural communication. Thus, a lot of people prefer to learn
English. But sometimes they face with problems, and it is not just difficulties
in grammar or vocabulary, but something personal. Today everybody knows what
dyslexia is, but not all understand how to deal with it in learning languages.
The actuality of this paper is too obvious, to get acquainted with work with
students with dyslexia, because such students need some special approaches in
In this article we will
talk about the dyslexia in general, what to do with dyslexia in classroom and
show how to work with students who have such disease through strategies and
present some activities to learn foreign language easily.
The first let's try to
figure out what is dyslexia. Dyslexia is a difference in the brain develops
which is found in around 8% of the population (European Dyslexia Association,
2013). It is often thought of as a difficulty with reading and spelling, but
these are just the surface symptoms of underlying cognitive differences which
can also result in other difficulties, for example with memory, coordination,
organization and speed of processing information .
In a classroom,
dyslexics may appear to be easily distracted, and because of this are often
labeled as lazy by teachers and parents, moreover, they do not understand the
learning difficulty. Also they may have some problems with conditions of
teaching such students. This leads to self-esteem problems, which can be the
most debilitating long-term effect of dyslexia.
Inclusive education in Kazakhstan is at the stage of formation, therefore, for our country, the task of
establishing an inclusive education system requires a solution at the state
level. It is inclusive education that will provide children with special
educational needs with development opportunities equal to those of their
healthy peers, which are necessary for maximum adaptation and full integration
into society. Inclusion is recognized as a more developed, humane and effective
education system not only for children with special educational needs, but also
for healthy children. Inclusion gives everyone the right to education,
regardless of whether or not they meet the criteria of the school system. The
school performs not only educational functions, but also is the main sphere of
the child's life. Through respect and acceptance of the individuality of each
of them, the formation of a personality takes place, having its own educational
trajectory. Students at school are in a team, learn to interact with each
other, build relationships, together with the teacher to creatively solve
educational problems. It is safe to say that inclusive education expands the
personal capabilities of all children, helps to develop such qualities as
humanity, tolerance, and readiness to help. Inclusive education is a
fundamentally new system where students and teachers work towards a common goal
- affordable and quality education for all children without exception.
Thus, the problem of
inclusive education is complex, debatable, but the main thing is that it is truly
social, since in the course of its solution the interests of a colossal number
of people are affected.
Learning a new language
can be very difficult for people with dyslexia, especially in the written form.
For example, it can be very stressful for these language learners to be
introduced to new patterns, sounds and symbols when they already struggle with
reading, writing, spelling and vocabulary acquisition in their native language
trends, enshrined in official state documents, interpret the implementation of
inclusive education policies. In accordance with the order No. 66 of the
Minister of Education and Science of the Kazakhstan Republic dated February 14,
2017 "... children with various mild speech impairments (phonetic underdevelopment,
phonetic-phonemic underdevelopment, mildly expressed general underdevelopment
of speech, slight stuttering) and written speech (dysgraphia, dyslexia,
dysorphography) are sent to speech therapy centers, psychological and
pedagogical correction rooms, rehabilitation centers based on the conclusion of
the Psychological-Medical-Pedagogical Commission."
legislatively illuminated solutions to the problems of inclusion, not all
schools diagnose such difficulties as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia.
Difficulties not diagnosed in time are an obstacle to the successful mastery of
educational material, active cognitive and creative activity. As you know,
dyslexia is not a disease. According to the International Dyslexia Association
(IDA), this is a cluster of symptoms, expressed in difficulties in mastering,
in particular, reading and in the use of specific speech-language skills.
Students with dyslexia have difficulty learning skills such as spelling,
writing, and spelling .
Learning English by
dyslexic students presents similar difficulties as in their native language.
The task of the teacher is to recognize the existing problem and begin active
work to overcome it. D. Kormos identifies special types of defects associated
with reading when learning a foreign language:
- Defect in speed /
fluency of reading;
- Defects in the correct
reading of words;
- Defects in reading
within the educational process is aimed at training and development of cognitive
functions, violations of which are the basis of dyslexia, and the formation of
compensatory mechanisms based on well-developed skills and functions. Despite
the fact that there is a lack of phonological decoding for many people with dyslexia,
some of them are able to master these skills, albeit relatively slowly in the
process of persistent and systematic training. A balanced rehabilitation
program involves individual training, including systematic classes on
developing phonemic awareness skills, mastering the relationships between
phonemes and graphemes, reading automation and fluency, reading comprehension
strategies, and writing skills .
Students of pedagogical
specialties have insufficient knowledge in this area. The higher education
system is designed to prepare an average teacher for an average student,
without properly including a child with learning difficulties in the full
educational process. This leads to such problems as lack of competence in
working with dyslexic children, incomplete implementation of a
personality-oriented approach, undifferentiated student assessment system.
According to statistics, currently for every ten students there is one dyslexic
child. A teacher of a foreign language should have sufficient psychological,
pedagogical and methodological knowledge in the issues of teaching a foreign
language to students with specific deviations .
I work at school where
we have inclusive grades. Due to my experience, I can say that it is very
difficult to work with such students, because I and my colleagues have luck of
information how to work with them. Another big problem, that there is no any
supporting materials for teaching as books, manuals and a specially designed
program. Nevertheless, there are internal meetings with teachers from the
school how works in inclusive grades, there we share our experience, learn
something new and try to upgrade our teaching skills. But still such work in
not held in all schools in Kazakhstan.
One of the methods all
we know is Total Physical Response (TPR). TPR is a method of teaching language
or vocabulary concepts by using physical movement to react to verbal input. The
process mimics the way that infants learn their first language, and it reduces
student inhibitions and lowers stress. The purpose of TPR is to create a brain
link between speech and action to boost language and vocabulary learning. TPR
may be used to teach many types of vocabulary but works best when teaching
vocabulary connected with action. It is an effective strategy to use with
English Language Learners as well as with native speakers when learning new
The most common
variations of TPR activities:
- TPR Circles
Organize the students
into a circle around the teacher. The teacher says the word and the last person
to do the action is out. This person then stands behind the teacher and watches
for the student who does the action last. Eventually there is only one student;
he or she is the winner.
- TPR Simon
Play Simon Says. The
teacher gives a command and students should only do it if the teacher
"Simon says..." at the start. The teacher might say, "Simon
says, 'slice some bread'" or "Simon says, 'chop an onion'" and
the students must do the action. However if the teacher says, "Whisk an
egg" the students shouldn't do this. If anyone does the action that Simon
doesn't say then they are out and have to watch for the mistakes of the other
- TPR Sounds
The teacher will first
get the students to do the actions connected with each vocabulary word. Then,
the teacher adds a sound related to the word and the students practice hearing
the word and doing the action along with making the sound. The students are
then ready to give commands to each other.
All students, adults and
children, with or without the dyslexic learning style, thrive in a language
class that includes TPR. Why this method is suitable for students with
dyslexia? Typically, the initial TPR lessons are commands involving the whole
body - stand up, sit down, turn around, walk, stop. Those actions are
demonstrated by the teacher, who then invites students to participate with her
as she continues to say the words .
Here are 5 strategies
you can apply in your classroom:
1) Multisensory Learning
help dyslexic children absorb and process information in a retainable manner
and involve using senses like touch and movement alongside sight and hearing.
They are not only
beneficial for dyslexic learners but also the rest of the class. Engaging in
something different and hands-on excites students and heightens engagement.
multi-sensory activities for the classroom include:
Writing words and
sentences with tactile materials, e.g. glitter glue, sand, pasta, LEGO, or
2) Assistive technology
Cultured keyboard. Keyboards
with cultured overlays and larger letters make typing more accessible to
dyslexic students. Some come with multimedia hotkeys that enable the user to
play, pause, stop, or rewind audio, which is useful as dyslexic learners often
use text-to-speech software when reading and writing.
3) Helpful Arrangements.
Give them plenty of time
to complete homework. If a piece of homework takes a day to complete,
distribute it on a Friday so that the dyslexic child has the whole weekend to
work on it.
You could also let their
parents know what the homework schedule is for the month, so they can start
looking at certain topics with their child at home in advance.
4) Educational Games.
The great thing about games designed for dyslexic students is that any learner
can benefit from them, so you can easily incorporate them into lessons for the
whole class. Nothing will excite your students more than playing games!
There are hundreds of
educational apps and games for dyslexic learners available. High Speed Training
and Dyslexic.com have a selection of apps which are available.
5) Working together with
parents. Meet with dyslexic students parents regularly to discuss how their
child is doing and the strategies you've applied in the classroom. The child's
parents can also update you on what methods they've been using at home and
what's been successful.
This is important
because, ultimately, no two dyslexic children are alike and there is no
"one-size-fits-all" approach. By sharing knowledge about ongoing progress, both
you and the parents can work together to find learning methods that's
successfully aid the dyslexic student's learning .
activities which teacher can use in the classroom with students who has
1) Helping learners
prepare for a text
When approaching a new
text, the greatest support learners can have is a clear, structured scaffold
established in advance. This can take the form of a guided brainstorming
session, or the creation of relevant vocabulary banks or wall charts that can
be added to later.
While most dyslexic
students can train themselves to read without too much trouble they still
continue to have problems with spelling, which is made worse when learning
English as it is not a phonetic language and there are too many exceptions to
the rule. There are number of fun different ways to help a dyslexic student
improve their spelling which in turn will also be beneficial to your other
students as spelling in English is notably harder than most other languages.
3) Picture It!
For more advanced
students, who really feel silly breaking down words, mnemonics could benefit
them especially if they're visual learners. Mnemonics is the art of visually
forming an association with the word. The first trick could be to visually recognize
through their eyes. E.g. Tendency - the word tendency has the letters EN on
either side of the D which helps students add to the layers of the memory which
will help them learn how to spell the word easier.
Based on the foregoing,
as awareness of dyslexia grows amongst teachers and parents, more students are
being assessed and found to have dyslexia. Steps should be taken to solve the
problem of training linguists with speech inclusion. Due to the lack of skills
in working with students with speech difficulties, a program should be
developed to increase the teacher's competencies in the framework of speech
inclusion. It is necessary to ensure the proper training of qualified
personnel, adapted to modern educational needs. Within the framework of this
program, a separate scale for assessing students knowledge should be
developed, taking into account the difficulties that children face not only
during primary school, but also in middle and senior levels. Studying the problems
and ways to overcome dyslexia, as well as training teachers of a foreign
language should be in priority positions due to the fact that through mastering
reading skills, especially in the process of studying, the ability to perceive,
analyze and reproduce information is formed not only in the framework of
education, but also and further life. In the end, the good practice that we put
in place will be beneficial for all learners, and for learners with dyslexia,
it might well make the difference between failure and success.
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(Reference date: 22/04/20)
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7. Total Physical Response (TPR) http://www.theteachertoolkit.com/index.php/tool/ total-physical-response-tpr
(Reference date: 5/05/20)
8. Helping your Student with Dyslexia https://www.dyslexic.com/blog/helping-your-student-with-dyslexia-learn-5-strategies-to-rely-on/
(Reference date: 9/01/21)
9. Dyslexia in the ESL Classroom 5 Ways to
(reference date: 16/01/21)
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №12 - 2020