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Redefining How We Understand the Needs of Students with Dyslexia

In this webinar, we address some challenges that students with learning differences, such as dyslexia, may endure during their foreign language studies, while offering practical advice on how to offer guidance and assistance. For students with learning differences such as dyslexia, instruction needs to be explicit, direct, and cumulative. Students with learning differences also greatly benefit from a student-centered classroom that is engaging and incorporates multi-modal learning approach to language learning. While the suggestions in this webinar are developed for students with learning differences, they are teaching practices that can support the academic success of all students.

Speaker: Rosa Dene David
Rosa Dene is an English Language Instructor at Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia. She has worked as a teacher-trainer, an ESL/EFL instructor, and she has also taught International Relations. She holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Portland State University. Her research interests include supporting students with learning differences in the foreign language classroom, computer-assisted language learning, English as an international language, curriculum design, and intercultural learning. She has taught in the United States, Bolivia, Colombia, South Korea, and Mexico. When Rosa is not inside of the classroom, she likes to spend her free time experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors or curled up with a book.

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Redefining How We Understand the Needs of Students with Dyslexia

  1. 1. Redefining how we understand the needs of students with dyslexia Rosa Dene David
  2. 2. In today’s webinar, we will explore some of the ways students with learning differences may have issues acquiring information and we will look at ways to support our learners. This webinar will primarily focus its analysis on dyslexia, but it is important to note that these suggestions can help all students in their second language studies.
  3. 3. For today’s webinar, you will need a piece of paper, and either a pen or a pencil.
  4. 4. Try to imagine what it would feel like to have dyslexia. What areas do you think think would be difficult for you in an EFL classroom? A: You have a short term phonological memory, meaning that you have trouble remembering sounds and words. B: You have a hard time producing syntactic structures, meaning that using grammar rules and grammar structures. C: You may read at lower speeds than other students in the class. D: You have issues with orthography or remembering the spelling of words
  5. 5. If you answered all of the above, you are correct!
  6. 6. The term 'Specific Learning Difference' (SpLD) refers to a difference or a difficulty people have with particular aspects of learning. (Kormos & Smith, 2012) What is a specific learning difference?
  7. 7. Students with a Specific Learning Differences (SpLDs) struggle with: Acquisition of numeracy skills: DYSCALCULIA Acquisition of literacy skills: DYSLEXIA Coordination of movements: DYSPRAXIA Comprehending & producing language: SPECIFIC LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT sustained attention: ATTENTION DEFICIT AND HYPERACTIVITY Social interaction: ASPERGER’S SYNDROME
  8. 8. Around 10 percent of students exhibit a Specific Learning Difference (SpLDs). This means that in every learning group of twenty students, we are likely to find at least two learners who have SpLDs (Kormos & Smith, 2012) ? ?
  9. 9. • About 70 percent of learners who struggle with one SpLD will also experience some traits from another SpLD • The co-occurrence of SpLD is common and it is difficult to separate one SpLD from another as these terms just become blanket definitions (Kormos & Smith, 2012)
  10. 10. In order to fully understand the challenges students with learning differences endure in the classroom, we experience what they feel. You are going to participate in simulation to see what it feels like to have a learning difference.
  11. 11. Please take out a piece of paper, and either a pen or a pencil.
  12. 12. Step One: On one of the next slides you are going to see a short text. You must copy the text using the hand that you normally do NOT write with. Step Two: If you are right-handed, you will write with your left hand and if you are left-handed you will write with your right hand. Directions: Page 1 of 2Adapted from DysTEFL, 2016
  13. 13. Step 3: Whenever you see an ‘e’ you will write a schwa, like this: ‘ə’ Step 4: Whenever you see an ‘a’ you will write an at sign, like this: ‘@’ Step 5: Whenever you see an ‘s’ you will write the number five, like this: ‘5’ Adapted from DysTEFL, 2016 Page 2 of 2 Directions
  14. 14. Ready
  15. 15. The SFLL makes it clear that individuals require varied kinds of support to facilitate their learning. Schools deliver a variety of services to assist student who have special learning needs. Some service provide support for learners who lack certain skills or learning conditions; others are for students whose abilities exceed those of their peers. In any case, each learner brings a unique configuration of skills, talents, and knowledge to the foreign language classroom and should be provided with supporting services. According to Fairfax County public schools (1992), some of these students have documented learning disabilities while others simply need some adjustments in their class schedules, testing, or homework arrangements, or other educational services. Students who are considered average or non- gifted...may also have special cognitive needs. It is paramount that the foreign language teacher understand the characteristics of these groups in order to use specific teaching strategies that will enable them to experience success in the language classroom. (Shrum and Glisan, 2010, p. 361)
  16. 16. Please, put your pen or pencil down...
  17. 17. Raise your hand if you were able to finish copying the entire text
  18. 18. How did this activity make you feel psychologically, emotionally, and physically? In the text box, please write down one or two word responses.
  19. 19. Linguistic issues a learner may experience Problems segmenting words into phonological units Problems with word recognition Difficulties spelling Smaller range of vocabulary Slow word retrieval Slow speech Articulation problems Problems in keeping verbal material in phonological short-term memory (Kormos & Smith, 2012)
  20. 20. Non-linguistic issues a learner may experience Smaller span of working memory Difficulties with handwriting Cross motor-coordination Difficulties with time-management and organizing work Difficulties in automatizing new skills (Kormos & Smith, 2012)
  21. 21. Strategies to incorporate a multi- sensory approach in the English language classroom
  22. 22. Multi-sensory teaching methods (MSL)  Goal: To develop L2 learner’s phonemic, morphological and syntactic awareness by developing auditory, visual, tactile, kinesthetic and pathways By learning through the use of additional sensory channels, students with SpLDs such as dyslexia are able to counterbalance problems with phonological processing (Gillingham & Stillman, 1960)
  23. 23. morphological & syntactic awareness Auditory pathways Visual pathways Tactile pathways Kinesthetic pathways
  24. 24. What are the four skills that we need to incorporate into our English classes? A: Grammar, Vocabulary, Pronunciation, and Spelling B: Listening, Speaking, Writing, and Reading C: Phonetics, Syntax, Morphology, and Pragmatics
  25. 25. If you said B, you are correct!
  26. 26. Strategies for teaching listening  Some learners will have difficulties hearing the difference between similar sounds  Lower level learners do best with audio that only contains a low number of words  Pre-teaching vocabulary with an emphasis on the pronunciation of words helps learners decode words from larger grammatical structures  Listening exercises should consist of short stretches of talk time  Add visual stimuli. Visuals helps students connect auditory information to the context (Think: film, webcasts, photographs offer students additional support)  Learners generally do best when they are solely focus on listening and then other activities are gradually integrate that have another focus. Gradually increase the speed and the length (Kormos & Smith, 2012)
  27. 27. Strategies for teaching speaking  It may be hard for students how to use grammar structures, having to remember the words they want to use and also the pronunciation Give students detailed instruction that outlines out the task is structured and what is expected from them in each interval Create speaking activities that puts an emphasis group work and give students ample time to practice Speaking activities do not have to focus on long utterances. Any amount of speaking will create learning pathways (Kormos & Smith, 2012)
  28. 28. Strategies for teaching writing  Writing activities should be introduced gradually and start from very short sentence level tasks  Pre-writing activities that assist students in planning the content are important, as they provide structure and help students develop a concrete understanding of what is expected and how to meet the learning objectives  The use word processers help reduce spelling and grammar errors, allowing students to focus on the overall writing process  Writing activities should be short and if a larger activity is required, break the writing segments into small chucks and scaffold other activities into the writing process (Kormos & Smith, 2012)
  29. 29. Strategies for teaching reading Pre-reading activities are essential for students with learning differences. Find ways to introduce or re-introduce vocabulary and grammar prior to reading and revisit after the reading exercise Reading is best taught after a longer oral language teaching phase, as it provides students with the foundation of speaking Length of text should increase gradually, starting with short paragraphs and moving onward to short stories Use texts that take into account the social and cultural context where learning is taking place to help students gain a better understanding of self within a larger picture (Kormos & Smith, 2012)
  30. 30. Remember, learning differences such as dyslexia are invisible and it is our job as teachers to create an environment where everyone can learn
  31. 31. Rosa Dene David – rosadene@gmail.com
  32. 32. References • American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. • Corbett J. (1996). Badmouthing: The Language of Special Needs. London: Falmer Press. • Council of Europe (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • Frith, U. (1999). Paradoxes in the definition of dyslexia. Dyslexia, 5, 192-214. • Gillingham, A. & Stillman, B.W. (1960). The Gillingham Manual: Remedial Training for Children with Specific Disability in Reading, Spelling, and Penmanship. Cambridge, MA: Educators Publishing Services. • Great Britain. Equality Act 2010: Elisabeth II. London: The Stationary Office. • International Dyslexia Association (2002). Definition of Dyslexia (fact sheet). Baltimore, MD: International Dyslexia Association. • Kirby, A. & Kaplan, B.J. (2003). Specific learning Difficulties. Oxford: Health Press. • Kormos, J. & Smith, A.M. (2012). Teaching Languages to Students with Specific Learning Differences. Toronto: Multilingual Matters. • Nation, I.S.P. (1990). Teaching and Learning Vocabulary. New York: Newbury House. • Ndlova, K. & Geva, E. (2008). Writing abilities in first and second language learners with and without reading disabilities. In J. Kormos & E.H. Kontra (eds.), Language Learners with Special Needs: An International Perspective (pp. 36- 62). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. • Shrum, J. and Glisan, E. (2010). Teacher’s handbook: Contextualized language instruction (4th ed). Boston, MA: Heinle • United Nations. (2006). Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [Online] accessed 20 October 2010. http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf. • Wagner, R. (1973). Rudolf Berlin: Originator of the Term dyslexia. Annals of Dyslexia, 23(1), 57-63. • World Heath Organization. (1994). International Classification of Diseases (10th rev.). Geneva, Switzerland: Author. • Yi, Y. and Angay-Crowder, T. (2016). Multimodal pedagogies for teacher education in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly 50 (4), 988-998.

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In this webinar, we address some challenges that students with learning differences, such as dyslexia, may endure during their foreign language studies, while offering practical advice on how to offer guidance and assistance. For students with learning differences such as dyslexia, instruction needs to be explicit, direct, and cumulative. Students with learning differences also greatly benefit from a student-centered classroom that is engaging and incorporates multi-modal learning approach to language learning. While the suggestions in this webinar are developed for students with learning differences, they are teaching practices that can support the academic success of all students. Speaker: Rosa Dene David Rosa Dene is an English Language Instructor at Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia. She has worked as a teacher-trainer, an ESL/EFL instructor, and she has also taught International Relations. She holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Portland State University. Her research interests include supporting students with learning differences in the foreign language classroom, computer-assisted language learning, English as an international language, curriculum design, and intercultural learning. She has taught in the United States, Bolivia, Colombia, South Korea, and Mexico. When Rosa is not inside of the classroom, she likes to spend her free time experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors or curled up with a book.

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