Teaching Spanish to Dyslexic Students
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that presents difficulties with reading, spelling and identifying speech sounds. It is a very common disorder among children and adults and it can represent a challenge thru one's life. Its impact reaches different areas, not only the academic one, but also social, professional, emotional, etc. Dyslexia is a journey that will last a lifetime and it is important to not let it define you.
As a Spanish teacher, some of the adults that I work with have dyslexia. All of them are very hesitant about being successful in learning Spanish, yet they have a strong desire to learn this language, so they are willing to try it. They come to our first class with very little confidence about achieving their goals. Or, their performance's expectations are very low. However, I always commend them for taking the first step, showing up. They know that their journey of learning is different than most, and yet, they are willing to try to learn Spanish.
For people that have dyslexia, one-on-one learning is a friendlier format than that of a classroom. As a teacher, I can absolutely personalized my lesson plans to fit their learning pace. Which will be helpful with building the confidence needed to continue to move forward. A technique that I use to help them befriend Spanish, is to let them know that Spanish is a very phonetical language, there are very few exceptions in the phonetics of Spanish that break this rule.
Very early on their Spanish journey, I teach my students that they can trust the sounds they hear in a Spanish word. That they will be able to spell a word in Spanish if they follow the sounds. This is a feeling that is new to them, they know that isn't the case with English, they can't rely on the sounds of an English word to guide them on how to spell it. This is one of the main differences between these two languages.
It takes a few lessons for them to develop this trust muscle with the Spanish language, eventually they all get there. After a while, Spanish isn't that intimidating anymore. They still have a lot of things to learn and overcome. However, how they feel about the language and themselves will make a tremendous impact on their learning process. It is one of my greatest honors to be a witness to their growth and see them become confident about their abilities. It becomes very clear in our classes, that they have had a lifetime of feeling less than everybody else in the room. So, when I see how much progress a student makes and how hard it can be for them, I can only feel respect and admiration. As a teacher, my job is one of service to you, seeing my students grow stronger every class, is my greatest reward.
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