Strategies for teaching reading to students with dyslexia
| Sophia Christina Andrioti - 16 Aug 2021

The magical reading brain
   As Maryanne Wolf stated at the Conference on Learning Disabilities in Boston in 2010, the human brain was never born to read. It rewires and uses systems that are already there for other processes. The concepts in the first language are an essential platform for concepts and vocabulary in the second language.
General principles
  When teaching reading to students with dyslexia, teachers should follow some general principles:
• Holistic
• Multisensory
• Experiential learning
• Differentiated activities
• Original tools for literacy development
• Cognitive and metacognitive skills
• Augmented reality tools
• Frequent revision
• Carefully structured
• Cumulative
• Explicit explanation of linguistic structures
 Dyslexic students have difficulties in finding linguistic regularities both in their L1 and in L2; hence they need an explicit explanation at all levels: morphology, syntax, spelling, and phonology. The communicative approach does not work with them.
• Ample practice, drills
  Teaching reading
 Reading consists of two phases. The lower-order decoding process, letter-sound correspondences, and words, morphological and syntactic structures. The higher-order processing, to understand and evaluate information conveyed in a text.
       Phase 1: Phonics
 Students need to be taught not only the letter names but also the letter sounds. It would be a good idea to start teaching the vowels first. Then break the alphabet into small chunks and teach both capital and small letters. When all the letter sounds are taught, students can start practicing blending small CVC words and pseudowords. After teaching CVC words, teachers can introduce consonant blends and digraphs. At this point, syllable division can be taught.
Phase 2: Reading texts
 Students should start reading texts after an oral language-teaching phase. The length of the text should increase gradually. Teachers could start with short paragraphs and break longer texts into smaller paragraphs. Texts should be motivating and interesting to read. The level of difficulty of texts should be commensurate with the learner’s level of proficiency and it should not contain a lot of unknown words and very difficult grammatical structures that are new to the learners. Teachers can try digital texts with pictures and allow students to select the font and size of the letters.
 Pre-teaching of unfamiliar grammatical structures and unfamiliar words, but no more than 6-8. Pre-reading activities are, also, very beneficial.  Teachers could ask students to look at the pictures accompanying the text, ask them what they already know about the topic, and guess what the text is about. They should read the text without focusing on details. Some post-reading activities appropriate for dyslexic learners are tables, diagrams, and short answers. Teachers should avoid multiple-choice activities at the beginning. Teachers could use a vertical layout and what is called ‘reading windows’, to help students focus on a specific line of the text.
I am Sophia Christina Andrioti, English teacher and special educator.  I am an MIE Expert, an MIE Trainer a Sustainable development Goals ambassador from Teach SDGs organization, a Sustainable Cosmos Ambassador, and a National Geographic certified educator. I am a certified educator in dyslexia and phonological awareness. I am also a conference speaker and judge. I have created the ‘Eulexia’ method in teaching English and Greek to students with dyslexia, which I have presented in conferences and webinars. I have taken part in global projects and have won global prizes and awards.

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