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How to Help a Child with Dyslexia Learn Spanish

By Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Spanish > Tips for Teaching Dyslexic Students Spanish

Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, and is frequently studied in high school.

You will need to look at some of the best ways to learn Spanish and find the one that suits you. After all, a method that is perfect for one person might be a struggle for another.

However, when a child encounters certain problems relating to their ability to learn, it is necessary to find the right methods to teach them properly. There are plenty of resources that you can use to make sure that learning disabilities such as dyslexia don’t impinge on a child’s ability to learn Spanish.

Working with Dyslexia when Learning Spanish

You might be wondering, what is dyslexia? Dyslexia is a learning-specific disorder due to neurological impairment: it’s a learning disability. People with dyslexia therefore have more trouble learning to read, and have attention deficit.

There are three main types of dyslexia: phonological dyslexia, surface dyslexia and mixed dyslexia. Concerning the first, which is by far the most widespread, the child has difficulty in associating a sound with letters, more generally in order to decipher the words.

Surface dyslexia, on the other hand, concerns the difficulty of memorising the spelling of words and thus their meaning. Finally, mixed dyslexia as its name suggests, combines these two types of dyslexia.

Often, it’s in school that the teacher will note the possible signs of dyslexia, such as literacy and reading problems. The symptoms of dyslexia include encountering difficulties in reading but also in writing.

Consequently, the dyslexic child finds themself in greater difficulty when learning a foreign language. Since they are subject to dysphasia, speech therapy has an important place in the life of a dyslexic child.

However, work must be continued on a daily basis, in any form of learning. Can the dyslexic child learn a foreign language such as Spanish while experiencing complications in his/her mother tongue?

Many parents ask this question, especially wanting to see their child grow despite their disability.

So, rest assured, yes it is possible to learn a foreign language for a dyslexic child.

Remember that if phonology is a real obstacle for these children, surrounding these difficulties remains nevertheless possible.

Tips for beginners learning Spanish are always a good idea, but the first one is finding the right method to help you learn. When is comes to dyslexia you simply need to adapt the learning process according to defined and effective methods.

This will allow your child not only to learn a useful language for their future private and professional life, but also and above all to give them confidence.

Teaching Children with Dyslexia Spanish

Challenges in learning Spanish are natural, and they will affect different people in different ways. If you want to teach yourself Spanish, for example, you might have problems in understanding all of the grammar points. For children with dyslexia, it is often due to reading difficulties. Learning how to read is a real challenge for them.

Indeed, when they have to read, decompose the words and transcribe the sounds it turns out to be difficult. This correspondence of graphemes and phonemes must therefore be worked on in depth.

In order to do this, it is recommended that you use decoding, known as the assembly path.

Although this process is laborious, it remains convincing, and it has proven itself worthy. Thus, make cards and associate letters, syllables and words with the corresponding sounds. Most syllables and processed sounds will then be found in the majority of words.

These tips and more are given by Superprof tutors who offer Spanish lessons London and elsewhere in the UK.

Learning Spanish with specific methods How to teach a dyslexic child to read Spanish?

So as you know now, the closer the writing is to oral understanding, the easier it will be for your child to learn. Spanish being a transparent language, correspondence is very easy! This will allow the child to broaden their field of learning with a new foreign language. To facilitate this syllabic decoding, there are several little tricks appreciated by the students:

  • Choose documents with handwriting,
  • Prefer a large character size: 14 or 16 instead of the standard 12, commonly used,
  • Use dual spacing to give space to the document,
  • Highlight important words in bold writing,
  • Use the Arial font.

Indeed, you should be aware that certain fonts are easier to read for dyslexic children. They have less difficulty in confusing certain letters like “b” and “d” if the font has a stronger differentiation.

Focus on punctuation to facilitate general understanding and fluency in reading texts.

These are all things to consider if you want your child to learn Spanish using books, too.

Dyslexia Support: It is Easier to Overcome in Spanish than in Other Languages

Learning a foreign language includes the need to learn a new phonological system, a new lexicon, and new grammatical rules.

How can a dyslexic child find their way?

In reality, foreign languages are not equal in terms of their learning difficulties for a dyslexic student.

Indeed, the more transparent the language, the easier it will be to assimilate.

Transparency corresponds to the similarity of written and spoken language, which allows a much simpler phonological deciphering.

Technically, we can speak of an easy association between graphemes and phonemes.

In French, for example, there are 190 graphemes for 35 phonemes. There are almost 200 ways of writing a few dozen sounds. This makes the French language, a language particularly difficult to learn for a dyslexic person.

It is for this reason that twice as many dyslexic people are counted in France as in other countries such as Italy which has 33 graphemes for 25 phonemes.

The most difficult language for dyslexic students is undoubtedly English.

With more than a thousand graphemes and forty phonemes, English presents itself as an obstacle too large for dyslexic students.

It’s the most widely spoken language in the world, but your child finds themself confronted with quite a challenge.

They will encounter a whole range of difficulties of this language: many consonants and vowels pronounce differently from our language, the transcription of the phonemes into graphemes is difficult because for a phoneme there are several graphemes, many words are phonetically and orthographically close…

What about Spanish?

Spanish is considered a highly transparent language. Therefore, the decoding is simple because there are few phonemes and graphemes in contrast to English.

The student is faced with fewer difficulties in assimilating words and sound more easily.

How to Help Someone with Dyslexia Learn Spanish: Intervention Methods

For a very good Spanish teaching method for dyslexic children, several methods exist. Do not hesitate to try several before making your choice.

Indeed, the effectiveness of these activities will obviously depend on the pupil, so be sure to choose the ones that will best allow the child to progress.

Multi-Sensory Method

As its name implies, this method consists in awakening the various senses of the pupil. Thus, try to stimulate the sight, the hearing but also the touch for a better learning.

Helping a dyslexic student learn a language needn't be a challenge How can you help a dyslexic child learn Spanish effectively?

Propose various visual methods: maps illustrated with colour codes, movies, photos, objects … Try audio media: audio books, recordings …  Apps to learn Spanish on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, can also be a great help.

Attempt to introduce gestures or educational games (for long sounds move hands away, for shorter ones clap hands…)

Memory Work

Perform a memorisation exercise at each Spanish course using colour coding, audio support or gestures.

Do not forget that mnemonic aids often turn out to be very good ways to learn.

Finally, you can also encourage the student to create personal cards that will allow him/her to find more easily during exercises.

Remember that learning Spanish online can offer a whole range of resources to aid you in preparing activities and strategies for helping a dyslexic child learn Spanish. These are more than likely going to be find on the numerous Spanish learning websites that the internet has to offer.

To learn the vocabulary, make cards that respect certain rules:

  • Indicate the English translation next to each term.
  • Provide audio and video media to facilitate vocabulary learning, including pronunciation.
  • Have your vocabulary spelled out loud before you write it.
  • Be sure to list different terms phonetically each day to avoid confusion.
  • Highlight the most important words with a color code.
  • Indicate difficulties and irregularities by highlighting them.

Work with different mnemothenic tricks What help with dyslexia can you offer to children learning Spanish?

For memorising conjugation and grammar during Spanish classes:

  • Classify irregular verbs by family,
  • Develop clear rules for each syntactic combination,
  • Illustrate each grammatical rule with examples,
  • Means adapted to each exercise,
  • Vary the exercises in four points: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Concerning oral comprehension and expression:

  • Add written materials with keywords to facilitate listening comprehension,
  • Exaggerate the intonations, so the student can more easily imagine the meaning of the text,
  • Try working in small groups when possible,
  • Make sure you have a proper pronunciation when reading aloud.

Written comprehension and expression must be explained by several means:

  • Present the texts in a clear way: highlight the theme, introduce the main characters…
  • Allow the student to refer to their vocabulary cards,
  • In order for the pupil to not panic, let them take their time to read, make sure that they read everything properly,
  • Illustrate the texts with images,
  • Ask the student to articulate the words he / she writes in a low voice,
  • Invite the student to refer to their vocabulary and grammar sheets to limit errors,
  • Require concentration and structure

Since the dyslexic pupil is a pupil who encounters difficulties in concentration, two main points should be taken into account in order to focus on the Spanish course:

  • Try to maintain a calm and soothing environment during the exercises. Dyslexic children are often prone to hyperactivity. Thus, the less agitation around them, the more they can concentrate on the exercise.
  • Be sure to organize and structure your lessons: the more coherent and logical they are, the less the student will be able to scatter. To do so, always explain before each Spanish course the program to be carried out clearly and concisely. It is advisable to write it on the board to allow the student to situate themself. In addition, always highlight the essential elements as well as the regularities. The more children will understand certain elements, the more confidence they will gain. Remember to always use materials to interact better with your student.

Student Development

Students with dyslexia often also suffer from a lack of self-confidence.

The difficulties they encounter during exercises, and in particular being slow, can be a great source of stress, often lead to academic failure, and they find themselves lost in an ill-adapted educational system.

Be prepared for giving lessons to dyslexic children Try to instil confidence during Spanish classes

Always emphasize your student’s progress and right answers.

Encouraging and valuing them will lead to a boost in confidence and thus the best conditions to learn.

Also, when you put in place an assessment system, consider developing positive reviews based on what the child knows and not about his or her mistakes: list all the positives aspects.

Finally, always evaluate the various exercises in equal parts (oral comprehension and expression and written comprehension and expression).

Don’t underestimate the different ways of learning Spanish. Using movies to learn Spanish might not seem like an obvious choice, but there is definitely advantages to doing this.

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