At high school, the scheme I learned French through was dyslexia-friendly. Here’s how.
- It was multi-sensory
- It presented the learning material in a context
- It involved overlearning
- It involved diagnostic tests
- It was exciting and enjoyable
These dyslexia-friendly aspects of my school French scheme are just as useful to me now as they were back then. I use them along with some other ideas to learn new words in English. This is how I learn new words then.
1) I hear new words and write them down
- I listen to audiobooks. (Books give language a context). Whenever I hear a word I don’t know, I write it down on a sheet of paper
- When I have filled up one sheet I start a new one. I number the sheets
- I use felt tip pens to write each word in a different colour. This helps me remember the words. I also enjoy the sensory aspects of writing with felt tips pens: the feel, the sound, and the colours
2) I find the meanings, and record them in writing and audio
- As soon as I can, I look up my words in a pocket dictionary
- I write down each word’s meaning on the sheet
- I find it exciting to discover a word’s meaning – it’s like unearthing treasure
- I also make an audio recording of each word sheet
3) I find images and create flashcards
- I search online for images of each word
- I create a flashcard for each word, using a table in Word
- Each flashcard has on it a word and its corresponding image. I also add the number of whichever word sheet the word is on, for reference
4) I learn the words
- I look at the flashcards on my computer
- I hide the words by selecting the words column then formatting the font as ‘hidden’. I look at each picture and say its word
- Then I unhide the words column, and hide the pictures column. I use WordTalk to listen to the words one at a time. When I hear each word, I envision the image that goes with it
- I read my current words of the day sheet at odd moments, silently and out loud. I also sing, clap, dance and act the words
- I listen to the audio recordings of my word sheets
5) I test my learning
Once a fortnight, I record a test on my digital audio recorder. For each word, I say the word and ask for the meaning, or vice versa. I download the recording onto my computer. The next day, I play the test on my computer and speak my answers. I audio record it. Then I listen and check my answers with the word sheets. I tick off the words I’ve learned and carry forward any I haven’t into the next fortnight.
Other tools for learning new words
(This paragraph references software that I as a dyslexic individual find helpful, or that others have recommended to me. This does not equate to Dyslexia Scotland endorsing these resources).
- To look up words by speaking them, and hear them spelt out:
- On a computer – Google Chrome’s ‘search by voice’ feature (Click on the microphone icon in the search bar. Then say ‘spell’ followed by the word you wish to find);
- On an iPad or iPhone – Siri;
- On an Android device – Easy Speak Pro (compatible with The Scottish Voice)
- To create audio-visual flashcards:
- An e-book App – see https://alifelessordinaryds.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/dyslexia-stories-8
By an adult member of Dyslexia Scotland
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For advice on finding and using online images see ‘Our top 5 sites for sourcing great images and photos on your iPad’ and ‘Understanding copyright, licensing and attribution for photos and images’ on the Book Creator blog.