Dyslexic Student’s Problems with Spelling Words

“A” IS FOR APPLE

When a dyslexic student is taught the alphabet with a different picture for every letter, this is what they could see in their minds when they try to spell a word.

So the word “APPLE” is represented by a picture of an apple, two penguins, a lamp and an elephant.  Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

They will be confusing the visual image of objects, animals and other real things with the letter when trying to use letters to spell a word.

How can dyslexic students learn to spell words with all this imagery in their heads?  This is the resulting confusion they face when taught to learn each letter of the alphabet in relation to a concrete noun such as an object, animal or person.  The most common relationships are “a” is for apple, “b” is for box, “c” is for cat, “d” is for dog, and so on through all 26 letters of the alphabet.  This occurs when the children are shown posters on the wall of the classroom with a picture of an object and the first letter of its name.  Or when they are given assignments with the same application.  Here is an example to illustrate:

How does the student use the visual combination of letters and picture images to spell other words?  Remember that all letters are very abstract to the right brain and represent nothing on their own.  This makes the young dyslexic student associate the sounds or sight image of each letter with concrete images, that is, they see or hear a word starting with an “a” and immediately a picture of an apple comes to mind.  In their minds they will see “a” as an apple.

The solution:  Avoid this method of association.  Teach every letter individually.  They should practice printing the letters and saying the name of the letter – have a sample of the letter for them to copy and memorize.  The shape or drawing of the letter becomes its own image.

Then teach every word they learn to spell as a complete sight word. Also teach spelling through reading words in sentences, not in long lists of words such a spelling test.  When they read a paragraph or passage from a story they learn to recognize the words through the context of the reading material and this will help them to retain the words.

Let’s use the apple image again but use it to represent the word, not the letter “A”.  This will help them with their sight reading.

Then to help learn to associate the “whole word” with the object try this demonstration below with different nouns which are the easiest words to find images for.  Keep a picture of the object and word in front of the student.  They need that to help them keep the image in their minds.

For more information about our teaching methods for dyslexics check out our website:  Dyslexia Victoria Online at www.dyslexiavictoria.ca

5 thoughts on “Dyslexic Student’s Problems with Spelling Words

  1. First I am going to assume you are talking about a Dyslexic student. One of the quickest ways is “boxing”. This is a technique that is often used with gifted kids. It works great with any word but especially service or dolch words that need context for meaning. I use this technique with all my students. Also great for studying big words or names such as science or social studies.

    This method is outlined in my book “14 Steps to Teach Dyslexics how to Spell and Read”. I show pictures of what “boxing” looks like. I list other methods in here that are aimed at the visual learner. You can find it on my blog here on the right side with the books shown. Also you can go to my website: “www.dyslexiavictoriaonline.com

    Here is a quote from the book:

    “Take a piece of 5 ½” x 8 ½” coloured paper (11” x 8 ½’ paper folded in half). Use the colour overlay chosen if they have been tested for Irlen Syndrome and draw the word in thick black felt pen. Then draw a box closely around the word and extending around the taller and longer letters.

    Ask the child to hold the paper in front of them and while looking at the word say the word out loud and then say the letters out loud as they point to each one. Just say what the letters are but not the sound of the letters. Have them repeat this process two more times. Then ask them to look at the word carefully for about five seconds and then close their eyes. Make sure they are doing this on a cleared table or area. If there are any objects in their visual range they could be seeing everything near them including the word on the paper which can be distracting.

    Now tell them to imagine the coloured paper in their minds, once they say they can see it then tell them to imagine the boxed word on the paper. When they say they can see it in their minds ask them to say the word aloud and then say the letters of the word they can see in the word. Ask them to repeat saying the word and saying the letters. Then ask them to read the word in their mind backwards. This ensures they are “seeing” the whole image of the word clearly in their minds. Now they can open their eyes and ask them to write the word on a coloured post-it note. If they have a problem with any of the steps have them start from the beginning.”

    If you have questions, let me know.

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