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Tutoring Jobs: How Can you Help a Dyslexic Student Learn Effectively as an English Teacher?

By Wajeeha, published on 27/09/2017 Blog > Tutoring > Advice for Tutors > How to Teach English to Children with Dyslexia

Students with dyslexia can have severe difficulties keeping up in school, with the rest of their peers.

They may suffer from low self-esteem due to their disability. After school, they have to struggle on their own which makes things even worst.

But their problems can be solved if the teacher is aware of their condition and accepts the challenge of teaching dyslexic students.

Teaching students with dyslexia is quite a challenging task because dyslexic students may struggle not only with reading but also comprehension, writing and spelling.

This is a lifelong condition that affects the reading abilities of a person. It is also the most common issue students have while trying to learn. According to some experts, the percentage of kids with dyslexia is between 5 & 10 percent.

Kids suffering from dyslexia are not in a position to answer questions about anything they have just read. They might also develop difficulty with mathematics. Many people misunderstand this condition and consider it to be a problem of intelligence which is not true.

Dyslexic students have higher IQ in general Dyslexic students can turn out to be more intelligent than their peers. ( Image Source: Unsplash)

People with dyslexia will become as successful in their careers as anyone else. Their condition can improve at the college level although they might need to take summer tutoring, home tutoring and even online tutoring.

With the right support of the teacher, the right methods and tools of teaching, they can thrive.

Problems Dyslexic Students Face While Being Tutored

  • They may struggle to read, spell or even write at the early levels of school even though they appear bright, articulate and intelligent.
  • People mistake their condition for laziness, carelessness and immature behavior. Teachers and their peers might label them as someone with behavior problems.
  • They have high IQ’s but their performance in academic and written tests is poor.
  • They develop a poor self-esteem and try to cover their weaknesses. They might also feel dumb.
  • They can get easily frustrated about stuff related to school, especially writing, reading and exams.
  • May have difficulty maintaining attention
  • The techniques to teach them are usually different than those used for other students.
  • They learn better with hands-on experience, experimentation, observation and visual aids 

English tutoring is an especially challenging task as English solely involves dealing with words and spelling etc. Dyslexic students might face the following issues while reading and spelling.

  • Dyslexic students struggle a lot while reading. They get dizzy and may develop headaches and stomach aches.
  • Normal words, digits, alphabets, letters, sequences and verbal expression can create confusion for them.
  • Their writing and reading behavior is unusual. They show repetitive behavior. They might make unnecessary additions or omissions and substitutions. Transpositions and reversals in the alphabet is not uncommon either.
  • They experience movement while writing, copying or reading.
  • They are very observant but they can also lack peripheral vision and depth perception.
  • Their spelling is inconsistent and based on phonetics
  • Whether it is English, Math and Science in kindergarten and school years, Calculus and Algebra in higher grades, standardized tests like Gmat, psat, etc., if they are to succeed in any of them, they need to learn differently.

Before we go into the depth of the ways of teaching that the English tutors need to adopt for dyslexic kids, it is crucial to also understand their troubles with hearing and speech. Because without understanding the condition of dyslexic students, teachers (especially English teachers) cannot succeed in teaching them properly.

The Issues with speech and Hearing

  • Dyslexic students often hear things that are not said because they have an extended hearing
  • They also get distracted easily. Their focus span can be very short
  • It is not easy for them to put thoughts into words.
  • Their speaking is usually in short phrases and sentences
  • They often leave sentences incomplete
  • They might also stutter under a lot of stress
  • They cannot pronounce long words correctly
  • They often transpose words and syllables when speaking

Their issues with Motor skills and writing

In more extreme cases:

  • Their handwriting can be illegible and vary a lot.
  • Their personality is clumsy and uncoordinated
  • They have the potential to be ambidextrous which means that they often confuse right with left, under with over and vice versa

 Memory Issues

  • In contrast dyslexia sufferers usually have excellent long-term memory and do not forget experiences, faces or locations easily
  • They have poor memory when it comes to remembering any sequences, factual information or anything they haven’t experienced
  • Their memory is vision and emotional based. They think with images and feelings rather than with words and sounds.

Tips to Tutor Dyslexic students

With the facts mentioned above, it is clear that teaching English to kids with dyslexia is not an easy task. It is quite challenging. It requires special methods and techniques. Dyslexic students need special attention and support. With the right help, they can shine just as easily as their fellow students.

English tutors remain high in demand Spend more time planning lectures for dyslexic students. ( Image Source: Unsplash)

The following are approaches to adopt when teaching students with dyslexia:

Use of MSL (Multi-Sensory Structured language)

This is the best method you can use to teach kids with dyslexia. With the help of Multi-Sensory Structured language, you can teach your students English in a much better way as it focuses on helping kids learn comprehension, vocabulary, fluency and accuracy, spelling of words and writing along with creating an awareness of phonemes.

Multi-Sensory Structured Language simply involves the use of all the senses of the student to aid them in learning. Touch, movement, sight and sound helps them during their learning procedure.

MSL involves spreading of phonological awareness which helps students in reading. Students are able to decode, spell, read and recognize words more fluently.

Diagnostic Teaching

The tutor should continually access the student and keep an eye on their progress. The teacher should evaluate and see if the student is still lacking in some skills and if they need to be retaught.

While teaching them phonemes, give your students some words to begin with. Then ask them to identify the sounds in the words. Note their weaknesses and strengths and design your future lectures accordingly.

Adopting a direct and explicit method while teaching

Explicit teaching refers to modeling and describing of a skill, breaking it down into several steps and giving crystal clear instructions along with valuable feedback. It involves clearly stating the reason and purpose behind attaining a certain skill.

For example, if you are about to give a lesson on letter “b”, emphasize what the students will be learning in that lesson and get the students to repeat the sound of letter “b” after you. Use chants, songs, poems and pictures beginning with the letter “b”.

Some other tips to improve their study skills are as follows:

  • While teaching, keep the pace slow. Teach one word at a time daily. Once the student masters the word, only then give them a new word. This will keep things manageable for the student
  • Make them count the number of words in a sound. This would increase their phonetic spelling of unfamiliar words
  • Teach rules of phonics and make sure they review them several times
  • Before they start writing, the writing tutors should hold activities that would make them brainstorm key words and new vocabulary
  • Use visual images and encourage the pupils to keep a journal
  • Record the instructions for homework, stories and new words and give it to the child so that he can listen to it several times. It will also serve as homework help to them.
  • Before reading, discuss the vocabulary with the dyslexic students. This will help them understand better and make predictions
  • Give them exposure to irregular words frequently
  • Use cards, colours, stationary, different objects along with actions to teach them certain verbs, nouns and adverbs

Be clever while designing lectures for the dyslexic students Use of new and visual techniques help the students learn faster. ( Image Source: Unsplash)

With the right one on one tutoring, the dyslexic students can achieve academic success. The best English tutors out there ensure that all their students enrolled in their class leave with the best reading & writing skills.

There are tutoring centers that focus primarily on dyslexic students. Your tutoring services in those learning centers would be highly required.

If you are providing private tuition and your tutee turns out to be dyslexic, you would need to get some training to teach that student on your own.

As a home tutor, you would need to design assignments, exams, and tests strategically, to match the needs and the condition of your student.

Whether you are a biology tutor, math tutor or a language tutor such as a Spanish tutor, French tutor etc. the teaching techniques mentioned above would apply to all tutor jobs!

You need to be passionate about teaching, if you are to make any real impact on the learning ability of your struggling students! With the right attitude, you will be able to create a huge difference in the life of your dyslexic students and they will be forever grateful to you. Learn how to set your English tutoring tariffs here.

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