Teaching EFL to Dyslexics

medHaving finished my novel and discovered a lot about self-publishing, I’m now embarking on a new project. I’ve taught English as a Foreign Language for around 16 years and during that time I kept getting students who had real problems with English. When I looked at the notes they made translating English into their own language, I saw that they weren’t spelling their own language properly. I noticed a lot of other issues with those students too, usually to do with their attention spans. I started to investigate dyslexia.

At first, I read general books aimed at teachers, and then I got so interested in it, I decided to do the full qualification here in Austria. That was really interesting as I had to teach German to German speaking kids. Boasting apart, I was dazzled by how successful I was. The “guinea pig” kids I taught had never been taught outside of mainstream schooling. They were delighted to be encouraged to play with play dough again, form letters properly, go right back to learning the alphabet and all the other things you do with dyslexic kids.

I found this was really useful in my English teaching. I’ve always used games, music, role-play, toys, and what TEFL teachers call “realia” – which is just physical things to take into lessons to illustrate a point. I’d particularly used these methods with those students who found it really difficult to get through an hour alone with me.

I’ve gradually built up a library of ideas and a room full of toys and games for my lessons. It was when I was discussing teaching the comparative and superlative with a colleague that I thought I should write a book about it. I told this colleague that I always take a bag full of plastic animals into the comparative/superlative lesson. She looked pretty surprised – I explained that I got the student to order the animals into “big – bigger – the biggest” or “dangerous – more dangerous – the most dangerous” etc. which she thought was revolutionary. Having done this sort of thing for years, I decided I could possibly contribute something useful to the literature on dyslexia.

I intend to finish it before the end of the summer – so watch this space!

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