Recent research shows that between 10-15% of the population are affected by dyslexia but the general knowledge about this condition remains low. Dyslexia often goes beyond difficulties with spelling and reading – dyslexic students may acquire new knowledge and skills in a different way and this of course applies to learning foreign languages, too. Having a shorter working memory span or not being able to read aloud and to pay attention to meaning at the same time are only two examples that a language teacher should be aware of. Raising awareness of possible strengths and weaknesses of dyslexic language learners is a first step to cater for these learning differences.
Research on and awareness for dyslexia has only increased in recent years which means that you may also find undiagnosed dyslexic adult learners in your course. This makes it all the more important being able to identify learning differences and to cater for them.
There is a lot language teachers can do to help dyslexic students: amending the classroom environment, changing teacher-student / student-student communication and interaction as well as applying differentiation techniques. We encourage all of our teachers to take the subject-specific free online course on Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching for their own professional development and to receive an overview on current knowledge about the nature of dyslexia, as well as provide language teachers with a range of useful techniques and tools to help dyslexic students.
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