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Dyslexia in TEFL Teaching: What You Should Know

Dyslexia in TEFL Teaching: What You Should Know | ITTT | TEFL Blog

According to the website “Master in special education degree program guide,” the most common learning disorder is Dyslexia. The condition affects 10% of the global population, which translates to roughly 2 to 3 children in every class. Many types of dyslexia can interfere with different basic learning skills, such as reading, memorizing, learning a foreign language and some may also have trouble understanding jokes or expressions. Depending on the person, the impact on skills will be different. The psychological explanations for Dyslexia involve the cognitive understanding of short- and long- term memory, which suggests the idea that people with Dyslexia have a shorter phonological loop span than non-Dyslexic individuals.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Amelia K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Psychological Understanding

In psychology, the working memory model explains the process of short- and long-term memory. It states that there are two systems: the phonological loop (inner ear) and the visuospatial sketchpad (inner eye), which are controlled like slaves by the central executive. The phonological loop itself splits into two other subsystems: an articulatory loop (inner voice) which voices information while rehearsing and the primary acoustic store which holds on the memory of the sound. It is, therefore, stated that people with Dyslexia might struggle with their phonological loop as reading is a phonological task. This will thus make it hard to process information while reading, as the phonological loop requires an individual to maintain letters long enough for words to be created. This will then lead to complications with reading and understanding the text. Furthermore, a range of activities and tasks would, therefore, be rendered difficult because of the function of the central executive being poorer in Dyslexic people.

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This explanation of the working memory model is supported by Baddeley et al, as he found that when participants performed a visual and verbal task together, performance on each was no worse than when carried out separately, supporting the theory that there must be separate subsystems. However, on the other hand, Baddeley’s experiment was done in a laboratory. This means that participants may have been under more pressure to succeed, as well as lacking ecological validity due to the unnatural environment. This could create a different set of results than when in a classroom for example. WAIT


A consequence of Dyslexia might be that the academic success of individuals may be altered, although they may have the same mental capacity as students without Dyslexia. The difficulty with reading and writing can be negatively labeled as ‘stupid’ and ‘dumb’, which may cause self-esteem to decrease as well as the social development of Dyslexic students.

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Certain strategies that one could implement to help with these difficulties, which over time could boost self-esteem and social development levels, include line readers which help dyslexic readers read through a book without experiencing ‘swimming’ words as they focus on a specific text at a time. Another strategy specifically for students is to print out a sheet containing the most important information that will be covered in a lesson that day. This will mean that students can take notes without worrying that they haven’t copied everything out.

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