"Dyslexia, though, made me realise that people who say 'But you can't do that' aren't actually very important. I don't take 'no' too seriously." Richard Rogers

Yes, dyslexia has gained popularity over the years and has become known as some type of 'learning disease'. However, you must understand that this learning setback is no disease at all and there is nothing that children without dyslexia can do that children with dyslexia can't do. Dyslexic children may struggle with reading, writing and speaking languages. This does not prevent dyslexic children from actually learning to read, write and speak languages though. So you can teach the English language as a second language to your child who has dyslexia.

It may take some time for dyslexic children to learn to read and write in English as a second language but you just need to patient and you surely will see positive language learning results. Support from parents can ensure that the learning of the English language is a far less painful process for children who suffer from dyslexia. So while multiple questions may bubble in your head after having found out that your child is dyslexic, silence your own negative thoughts. Realise and understand that there is actually nothing that your child will not be able to do. Turn the page of negativity and look for positive ways to promote learning of the English language.

Change your mindset about dyslexia
A supportive parent can help a dyslexic child believe that he or she can learn a new language. Source: Unsplash

If you are worried that your child will never be able to learn an extra language like the English language, change your mindset immediately! Your child will be able to learn English as a first or second language. Also, there are multiple help platforms available for students who suffer from dyslexia in today's time. If you feel like you can not support your child enough, you can always reach out and get help elsewhere.

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How to Support Dyslexic Learners

"To a young child who is dyslexic... I would say that oftentimes you'll see solutions that other people just don't and that is where you'll get your edge from." Dustin Henderson

There is nothing wrong with letting your child's teacher know that your child is dyslexic. Informing your child's teacher about your child's learning condition immediately will be highly beneficial.  Your child's teacher to be more compassionate towards your child as he or she struggles to differentiate between certain letters when reading. You must also understand that in a full class, the teacher may not have enough time to support your child or cater correctly to your child's varied learning needs. A dyslexic child may work at a slower pace in comparison to other children in the class. While this is not a problem, the children in the class may resort to mocking the child for being, "too slow."

It is always important to remember to motivate your child especially when it comes to language learning. Let your child know that it is okay for him or her to work slowly. You also need to ensure that you support your child by making reading, writing and speaking an active part of your daily routine. Set an appropriate amount of time for these activities so as to avoid frustrating yourself and your child. Teach your child to avoid the negative comments that he or she will hear. Remain a beacon of hope for your child and constantly encourage him or her to succeed.

Dyslexic children work at a slower pace
Your child will require more time for reading activities so ensure you make enough time to help your child read daily. Source: Unsplash| Mpho Mojapelo

You must understand that dyslexic children lack phonemic awareness. As a result, their pronunciation may be severely hindered. So grasping a new language like English may very well seem like a mammoth task. Instead of making a mountain over a molehill and seeing the ability to learn the English language as entirely impossible, realise that your dyslexic child can learn a second language like English at his or her own pace.

You must remember if you feel pressurised as a parent to keep up with your child's learning needs, seek support from an experienced ESOL tutor. A private ESOL tutor who has worked with dyslexic children and children with learning problems can surely work wonders in helping your child overcome all of his or her learning setbacks. However, a tutor is not the only option available for you.

Teaching Dyslexic Students How to Spell

"Dyslexics are round pegs in square holes when it comes to school. We don't fit that well unless our way of thinking is recognised and supported." Kate Griggs

You will have to realise that dyslexic children struggle with phonics and pronunciation so stringing together spelling words in the English language will be even more difficult. A private tutor who can teach spelling to your child will be highly advantageous. It is a proven fact that Spanish and French words are easier to learn how to spell and pronounce in comparison to English words. Yet teaching these students how to spell in English is not entirely impossible. You must remember that dyslexic children won't naturally recognise sight words. These sight words may have to be taught to dyslexic children and sometimes sight words might even need to be retaught.

The idea of "dyslexia-friendly teaching" has recently emerged. Using ideas from this teaching methodology would help. This would mean that you would break up the learning of certain spelling words into short periods of learning- that is learning a few spelling words from the list in one sitting only. You are expected to constantly repeat and reinforce the spelling words that were taught to ensure optimal recall.

Teaching children with dyslexia also means adapting your teaching methods to incorporate methods of teaching that involve the use of all the senses. Allow children to see words that are being spelt, hear the spelling words being pronounced and also trace the spelling words with their fingers. You can also write down some spelling words for children to keep in their pockets to pull out and recap during the day. Always keep your child motivated. Positive reinforcement works for all children and can be even more helpful to get dyslexic children to be enthusiastic about learning to spell in English.

Note down spelling words
Use colourful notes to help remind your child of spelling words that were learnt. Source; Unsplash

Teaching a Dyslexic Child to Read

"I don't 'suffer' from dyslexia. I live with and work with it. I suffer from the ignorance of people who think they know what I can and cannot do." Erica Cook

It is true that with constant support from school and from the home environment, dyslexic children CAN learn to read fluently and very well. While private tutors can help iron out any reading problems, you can also assist your child to learn how to read. It is believed that explicit systematic instruction is the most effective method to help dyslexic children learn how to read. Online learning programmes like Reading Eggs work to help children with dyslexia learn to read because it is based upon this form of explicit systematic instruction.

Vooks is an animated storybook software that utilises sound, musical elements and funky animations to make stories believable and enjoyable. For children with dyslexia too, if they enjoy the activity they are doing, they are more prone to want to do it. Here are some suggestions on how to make learning English fun for your child.

Another alternative to teaching phonics and getting children to become more phonetically aware is by allowing them to play the free phonics and reading game. Teach Your Monster How to Read is a fun way to get learners suffering from dyslexia to enjoy reading all the more. It can compliment all the other reading strategies that have already been implemented at school by the child's school teacher.

While these online options may work by providing a new way to stimulate your child, the good old fashion method of reading slowly and steadily to your child may work just as well. You can ask your child to read to you and correct any incorrect words uttered as well as remedy incorrect phonetical pronunciation in a comforting and reassuring way.

Read to your child
Patience is key when it comes to reading a story with your child who is dyslexic. Make yourself comfortable and take time out to read. Source: Unsplash

Helping Children With Dyslexia Learn English

There are other methods that you could employ to help your child who is suffering from dyslexia to learn English as a second language. You could:

  • Let your child watch age-appropriate English films. The more children hear the pronunciation and enunciation of English words, the easier it will become for them to familiarise themselves with words. If your child is a fan of sports, you can allow your child to watch a match that features English commentary. As your child watches certain events, he or she will be able to deduce which words collaborate with the actions of soccer players. Letting your child watch cartoons, films or sports that they like will make your child more comfortable with sitting for the full hour and watching a programme in a completely foreign language.
  • Read one story repeatedly. Sometimes you may need to teach by repetition. Repeating an idea over and over again maybe the best strategy to help your child become familiar with certain words and phrases. After reading a story repeatedly, your child can be asked to read the story back to you. Having repeated the story several times yourself, your child will also be comfortable with making mistakes and rereading a sentence to correct it. You need to make time and set aside time to repeat tasks and read slowly more than once.
  • Constantly speak the English language at home. Making sure to speak the English language in the home setting is important if you are trying to promote English language learning. The more accustomed your child becomes to hearing the language, the more motivated your child will be to speak the language. Incorporating the English language almost naturally into the home, allows your child to learn the language without actually knowing that he or she is learning.
  • Travel to a region or country where English is predominantly spoken. Aside from allowing your child to understand the culture of the language, you will also make your child more interested in the language in general if you visit regions or countries where English is spoken. A visit to another country is a great way to get your child to pick up various English words. Talk to your child as he or she gets older about how English is a universal language and how he or she will benefit from learning the language.

The above-mentioned strategies may very well and assist you with helping your dyslexic child master spelling words, grasp vocabulary and read better. You must always remember the more you believe in your child and his or her abilities, the more your child will believe in himself or herself.

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Laila

Laila is an enthusiastic English educator and a fun-filled freelance writer. She has accomplished her dream of getting her first book published and has managed to write over 1 000 000 words since beginning her freelance career. In her free time, she is a travel blogger who explores all South Africa has to offer.