According to statistics 10 per cent of the public are dyslexic. It is officially recognised as a disability but, experts reckon there are many more people affected by the condition.
Although courses are now available to help teachers spot the signs, because it isn’t obvious a large percentage of the population do not understand what dyslexia is, the difficulties which the condition presents and don’t know how best to support sufferers.
While classroom support has proved invaluable for many pupils and students, one area which many think is out of bounds is learning modern foreign languages.
Experts at Lancaster University are trying to improve the chances for students wanting to further their language skills by offering a free online course to language teachers.
The course is aimed at English language teachers, teachers of modern foreign languages, teacher trainers, educators and trainee teachers interested in how they can accommodate and cater for the needs of students with dyslexia in foreign/second language classrooms.
The course, based on the award-winning materials of the Dystefl project, details the nature of dyslexia and how it affects the learning of additional languages.
It explores a variety of techniques, including recent computer-assisted tools that can be taken into the classroom to help students with dyslexia in acquiring another language.
Lead educator Professor Judit Kormos, from Lancaster University’s linguistics department, will give practical guidance and advice on enhancing the phonological awareness, vocabulary knowledge and reading skills of dyslexic language learners.
She says: “The materials and tasks in the course can be applied for various age groups of dyslexic students and for a variety of language learning contexts including the teaching of English as a foreign/second language and the teaching of modern foreign languages.”
Prof Kormos researched how participants’ attitudes to inclusion and self-confidence in teaching students with specific learning differences have changed after they took the course, and the results showed that teachers became a lot more confident of their abilities to create an inclusive language learning environment their context.
Enrolment is open at https://www.futurelearn.com/register
The course is meant to help tutors in the classroom, but techniques and ideas can be used in one-to-one settings and help schools in general.
Testimonials of success:
n “I loved this course and found it extremely useful. It has refreshed my love of teaching. I only have a few dyslexic students I can think of, but I have found the tools to be very useful for learners in general and I have already incorporated some of them into my classes.”
n “This course has been a big wake-up call for me. I am qualified in both modern foreign languages and dyslexia, but doing this course has made me realise how I sometimes don’t do the best for my dyslexic pupils in a busy classroom”
n Before starting this course I was completely at a loss how to help my students who were struggling with second language learning due to learning differences. It seemed as if extraordinary amounts of time and extraordinary provisions needed to be made. Now I understand that helping these students doesn’t have to be a huge weight, it consists in small changes and allowances that can be made for all students if I want.”