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Dyslexia/learning difficulties and ESL/EFL

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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Posts: 59
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2003 11:55 am    Post subject: Dyslexia/learning difficulties and ESL/EFL Reply with quote

Has anyone out there had experience teaching students with learning difficulties, specifically dyslexia?

I teach at a local community college and my students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have varying levels of education. There are no placement tests, students enroll according to the course description (e.g. 'suitable for students with 2-3 years school English.') Now and again I come across adults who, for example, at some point require English for their jobs and then start a course twenty years after leaving school. As well as the usual difficulties with being in a classroom again, I suspect that some of them have learning problems, varying degrees of dyslexia (in the case of older students, they were never diagnosed, just considered to be 'slow' or 'stupid'.) Learner esteem is often a lot lower and groups are relatively big - 10-16 pupils - so I need to be very resourceful to make sure they don't get lost.

As well as that, I am often asked to tutor secondary school students with learning difficulties. I tell their parents that I am not trained to deal with dyslexia but the only alternative available to many students is to be sent to a tuitition institute to be taught in groups by equally unqualified teachers - so 1-2-1 classes with me are still the better option. Confused

I'm in the process of educating myself a bit - and before you ask, no, unfortunately I don't have the opportunity to attend a course for teachers of students with LDs (not at the moment, at least) so I would appreciate it if teachers who have had students with dyslexia would share tips or experiences.

Thank you very much!!
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Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 60

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2003 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just did a presentation on LDs in class (teacher certification).
Here are some websites you might want to check out;
Hope it helps!
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Posts: 59
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2003 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Ann,

Thank you for taking the time to reply- the sites are/were very useful.

I'd be interested in hearing more about your presentation - do you also teach adult learners with LDs?

Thank you!
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Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 6:16 pm    Post subject: Tips for teaching learners with LLD Reply with quote

You may have already gotten some of this info from the IDA website, but just in case...

Here are some ESL topics that tend to be especially challenging for students with language learning disabilities (LLD).
- phonological [sound] awareness: hearing the differences between vowel sounds, understanding and using rhymes, matching sounds to letters for reading and spelling, etc.
- understanding and using unstressed morphemes: this includes third person singular -s, posessive -'s, plural -s, and past tense -ed. Other suffixes and prefixes may have to be taught explicitly as well.
- word order
- vocabulary building
- skimming texts for specific information
- summarizing
- identifying the main idea
- making inferences
- answering wh- questions
- the passive voice
- temporal sequence words (then, after that, before, while, etc.)
...and on and on

The key to working with students with LLD is structure. That includes always spiraling back over concepts, again and again, day after day. You don't have to spend a lot of time on the reviews (say, 10 to 15 minutes out of each hour), but make sure that they happen consistently. Structure also includes not introducing a complicated idea all at once; instead, introduce a manageable part of it, then add to that, then add to that, until eventually the whole concept is doable. Speech-language pathologists tend to aim for 80% accuracy on any activity. Reading specialists tend to aim for 90% accuracy. This means you really have to break down everything into very simple parts. Why bother? Because, as you pointed out, self-esteem is a big issue. Students need to feel successful.

Don't worry that you are not 'qualified' to work with students who have dyslexia. Yes, training helps a lot. However, if, as you say, the alternative is other teachers with no training, then you are by far the best option because at least you are doing your best to learn how to help these students. Unfortunately, there are very few teachers in the world who are trained both in ESL and in special education.

If you want to brainstorm about any specific students, need lesson plan formats or book/article references about LLD, or have any other specific questions, feel free to email me directly.

[email protected]
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