Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dyslexia /Learning Difficulties in EFL: Useful Tips for EFL Teachers - Report on Marina Tzalamoura’s Session

Ms Marina Tzalamoura started her talk emphasizing that more and more students are diagnosed with Dyslexia and other Learning Difficulties and EFL  Teachers are being challenged to facilitate their learning by engaging them into teaching styles that will help them learn English as a second language. 

                                                                                                                                                                          Photo by Elpiniki Meimaroglou

Ms Tzalamoura went on to provide an overview of the strengths and weaknesses that characterize dyslectic students in order to enlighten the EFL Teachers as to the most appropriate methodology that could be used with them. She carried on offering valuable directions along with useful and practical advice to teachers in order to guide them on how to cope with these issues.

Additionally, she stressed out that nowadays, educators ought to be aware of the methods which can be effectively implemented in classroom so as to motivate and maintain their interest in learning English. Moreover, they should wisely choose texts and other material according to each student’s cognitive stage of development. She recommended three basic methods associated with teaching strategies in assisting EFL Teachers get involved in.
Being a strong proponent of multisensory teaching, she presented three widely used multisensory models, namely: Horn’s Look-Say-Cover-Write-Check method, the Visual-Auditory- Kinesthetic- Tacktile (VAKT) method and the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) method. She clearly illustrated how to teach spelling using these methods and provided examples and activities that could be used.

Horn’s Look-Say-Cover-Write-Check Method:

  •  Look at the word and take a snapshot of it.
  •  Pronounce the word while looking at it and listen to the sounds it makes.
  • Say the letter names while looking at them and spelling them aloud.
  • Cover the word and look at it in the mind’s eye with eyes closed.
  • Write the word using cursive writing.
  • Check the spelling by comparing it with the original version.

Visual-Auditory- Kinaesthetic- Tacktile (VAKT) Method:
This multisensory method works well particularly for someone with dyslexia who has developed phonemic skills and has learned to use phonological skills.

  • An effective method used to compensate for poor visual memory.
  • Aids retention, increases motivation.
  • Teaches students how to think about the process of spelling a word.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Method:
This method is a strongly visual approach and suits those who have good visual perception and visual memory. Some individuals with dyslexia have very poor visual memories while others have outstanding visual skills.

                                                                                                                 Photo by Elpiniki Meimaroglou

Multisensory teaching techniques and strategies stimulate learning by engaging students on multiple levels, thus helping a child to learn through more than one sense. She pointed out that thre is no one method for teaching spelling and that the approach should vary according to the individual learner’s capabilities. 

She, as well expressed that students with learning difficulties would benefit from differentiated instruction by focusing on each student’s needs and explicit instruction focusing on different aspects at a time. Learning strategies and mnemonic strategies should also be taught and more time should be allocated to students to spend on the task at hand. Last but no least teachers should bear in mind that these students should be praised for what they have achieved rather than be criticized for their mistakes. 

Concluding, Ms Tzalamoura on her talk has managed to provide invaluable feedback and up to a point aid the attendees to understand what is Dyslexia. Dyslexia is not a disease, it is a very special ability and we, English Language Teachers need to learn how we can transform it to an asset and by no means considering it as an obstacle to teaching English. 

Report by Dimitra Christopoulou

Interview with Marina Tzalamoura by Dimitra Christopoulou

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