In Nigeria, an approximate of 3-6 students in every elementary class have learning difficulties. According to a Guardian review, 90% of teachers in Nigeria don't know about dyslexia. Teachers who search for English tutoring jobs in Nigeria hardly have the time to pay attention to the specific needs of learners who are suffering from dyslexia.

Many students who suffer from dyslexia have trouble keeping up with the class and their peers. As an English tutor in Nigeria, you must keep ahead of the game if you're teaching a dyslexic student.

Especially in our Nigerian terrain, students suffer from low-self esteem, since information about the disability is not widespread in many schools in the country. However, if you're a teacher and you're reading this, you can salvage the situation if any student in your class or you are privately tutoring is dyslexic.

Teaching students with dyslexia can be challenging because some dyslexic students may be struggling with reading, writing, spelling and comprehension combined. Children suffering from dyslexia are also unable to answer questions about things they have just read. And although some might also have difficulties understanding subjects, it doesn't mean that they are dull.

What a dyslexic student needs are extra educational attention that can help better their developmental skills. It means providing supplementary teaching outside of school environment which can be in form of summer coaching, home teaching and even online teaching.

Contrary to the popular belief, people with word-blindness disabilities can turn out to be more intelligent and creative than their peers. The condition of dyslexic students can improve in their university-level if properly managed.

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Doing practical research can help you understand how to train a dyslexia sufferer. Photo Credit: Unsplash

Developmental Issues Students With Dyslexia Face During Class Teaching

As a teacher, consider these type of students special. Just as you treat something special with care, teaching students with this condition requires special attention. If you're trying to find out if the child or children you're teaching is dyslexic, there are specific problems they face which you can use to conclude:

  • Even though they may appear jivey or intelligent, people suffering from word-blindness may struggle to spell, read, or write during their early education stages.
  • Many people with this condition have been mistaken to be lazy, careless or immature. Their peers and school teachers may think they have behavioural problems.
  • Although these children have high IQ, their educational performance can be poor.
  • People with this condition get frustrated when it is time to study, especially when it involves reading, writing or taking exams.
  • People with word-blindness condition also have difficulties with focusing.
  • They also have poor self-esteem problems and try to cover their weaknesses which eventually makes them feel different and dumb.
  • The teaching methods designed to help their developmental stages is usually different from the ones used for other students.
  • Children with this condition learn better with hands-on experience, observation, visual aids, and experimentation.

In the case of the English language, teaching children with this condition can be quite challenging especially because it involves learning how to spell, read, and write.

Students with dyslexia might experience the following when they start spelling and reading:

  • People with this condition struggle a lot when they read or study. Problems include getting dizzy, developing headaches and sometimes, stomach aches.
  • When they study the English language (or any other language), normal alphabets, letters, words, sequences, verbal expressions and digits gets them confused.
  • They have difficulties with writing and reading in such a way that it influences their study behaviour. The developmental difficulties expose repetitive behaviour, and they might make unnecessary omissions, substitutions and even additions.
  • They also have problems with transpositions and reversals in the alphabet.
  • Children with word-blindness are usually unsettled. They experience different changes when writing, reading or during their study time.
  • Although they are observant, they tend to lack depth perception and external vision.
  • Learning how to spell can be inconsistent.
  • Children with dyslexia usually require a different approach to learning. Regardless of the school subject, if you intend for them to get higher grades, a different tutoring method is required.

Before divulging into the new tutoring ways English teachers can adopt to train children with disabilities such as these, we also need to understand the difficulties they have with hearing and speech. Especially in the case of English language teachers, it's important to understand the condition of learners who have dyslexia, as this is the only way to succeed in offering support and teaching them properly.

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Learners who have dyslexia can be lively but have difficulties keeping up with school work. Photo Credit: Unsplash

The Problems Children With Dyslexia Have With Speech and Hearing

  • Children who have dyslexia have an extended hearing and they often hear things that were not said.
  • Learning for children who have a history of word-blindness requires time because their attention span is short. They tend to get distracted easily.
  • They find it difficult to put thoughts into words.
  • Many of their words when it comes to speaking can be in short sentences or phrases.
  • A child with this special developmental situation sometimes stutters a lot if they are under immense stress.
  • They also sometimes leave sentences incomplete.
  • A child with this brain functionality cannot correctly pronounce long words.
  • During a speech,  they tend to transpose words and syllables.

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Issues Children With Dyslexia Have With Writing and Motor Skills

In extreme cases, a child that has this brain functionality will exhibit the following:

  • Their handwriting skills can be poor. It is sometimes illegible and varies a lot.
  • Because of their history with Dyslexia, they can be uncoordinated and clumsy.
  • Their brain tends to construe certain things differently. For example, they can confuse left with right, over with under, etc.

The Memory Issues A Child Suffering From Dyslexia Has

  • Unless they have experienced it, a child suffering from dyslexia hardly remembers factual information, sequences, etc.
  • On the contrary, dyslexia sufferers never forget a face, a memory or a location easily. They have exceptional long-term memory.
  • Their brain functions better when they see and feel things. Technically, you can consider their memory visual and emotionally based. A child with word-blindness will work better with images and feelings rather than words or sounds.

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By using the right tools and tutoring methods, Dyslexia suffers can improve greatly with words. Photo Credit: Unsplash

Salient Tips on How To Tutor A Student That Has Dyslexia

Based on all of the facts mentioned above, teaching the English language to learners with disabilities such as this is quite challenging. However, it is not impossible. Learning can become easier with special methods and techniques. As earlier mention, people who have a history of dyslexia need a lot of time, attention and support. And with the right help, they can excel in school like the rest of their classmates.

Here are learning approaches you can adopt when tutoring learners who have dyslexia:

Make use of MSL (Multi-Sensory Structured Language)

To improve the developmental experience of a dyslexia sufferer, using this method is the best option. Multi-Sensory Structured language simply involves using all of the senses of the learner to support their learning capabilities. It means using touch, movement, sight, and sound to help them learn.

As an English teacher (even if you teach English online), you can use this learning method to help your student learn vocabulary, comprehension, fluency, how to spell new words, how to write and how to understand phonemes.

For example, if you want your pupil to understand a vowel sound, you should maintain visual awareness of the teeth, tongue and lip positions, along with the kinesthetic feel of the sound in the throat. You should have your student do what you do and let them name the letter along with a keyword that can reinforce the sound/letter association.

Learning constantly in this manner will help learners with disabilities like this to read, boost their memory and provide the developmental support they need for educational success.

Apply Diagnostic Tutoring

Just as the name suggests, to maintain optimum literacy level for learners with a dyslexia history, you must continue to keep an eye on their progress. Check to see if your pupil still lacks some skills and if they need to be retaught.

For example, while tutoring them phonemes, give your students some specific words to start with. Then instruct them to identify the sounds in the words. Take note of their strengths and weaknesses and use this to adjust your future training.

Adopt a Direct and Specific Tutoring Method

To get the best educational development from dyslexia suffer, make use of explicit tutoring. It involves breaking down a term into several steps. For instance, if you're giving a lesson on the letter "c," emphasise on what the students will learn in that lesson. Then get them to repeat the sound of the letter "c" after you.  Use specific songs, chants that are in association with the letter.

Other ways to improve and support their educational growth are:

  • Keeping the pace slow. Even with visual education support, learners that have a history of dyslexia still need to be taught slowly. Teach one word/term daily. Once the learner masters the word, give them a new one.
  • To help them read and increase their literacy level, make then count the number of words in a sound. It will help them spell unfamiliar words better.
  • After tutoring rules of phonics, ensure they review them several times.
  • Before reading, discuss the vocabulary with dyslexia suffers. So that while reading, they'll understand better and make predictions.
  • To boost their literacy skills in writing, hold activities that can make them brainstorm keywords and new vocabulary.
  • Don't forget to use visual images, cards, colours, and different objects to teach. Also, encourage your pupils to keep a journal.

If you're opting for private physical and/or online English teaching jobs, helping with the literacy of learners suffering from dyslexia requires patience and intention. If you're new to this, it may be difficult in the early stages. However, these tips can help you grow if you stay consistent.

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