Comedian Gallagher sees School and the English Language like Dyslexics do

Comedian Gallagher gets Dyslexics frustration with the English language

Comedian Gallagher gets Dyslexic’s frustration with the English language

“Why should I be serious about the language if the language is not serious enough to make sense” –             Gallagher –


The comedian, Gallagher has been around a long time and like George Carlin has been a keen observer of the silliness of our world. In particular, they have had a lot of fun with the English language and its peculiarities. With the language influences of so many groups of peoples who moved in and out of the British Isles over the centuries, the language has become at the very least confusing to a total nightmare for those trying to learn it.

This doesn’t include words and expressions that are constantly being added due to new concepts and new stuff we keep creating or discovering. Much of it not conforming to phonics (sounding out a word) or the rules of the English language.

One of the qualities of those with a Dyslexic nature is our love of humor. So rather than continue to rant about the English language’s contribution to making a Dyslexic’s school experience hell why don’t you watch Gallagher’s video.  He expresses it beautifully.

Karey Hope deGraaf
Dyslexia Victoria Online

Dyslexia Victoria Online

How to Teach Dyslexic Students Fractions

My husband, Howie and I were tutoring a Dyslexic 9 year old girl a few months ago. She was having difficulty understanding fractions.  The method her teacher was using confused her. The exercises our student was working with set problems up this way:

The problem with these two dimensional diagrams is they are as abstract as the numerical image 1/4. For a Dyslexic student including the little girl we were working with these both meant nothing to her. They are symbols for something real – portions or parts but the child does not know that.

My husband, Howie is the math person between the two of us and went to work showing her physically what these two dimensional abstract images meant. He started with oranges. When demonstrating math concepts with real objects always make sure you have one whole of the object being used as you show the parts. If there is no complete object in view a Dyslexic child tends to lose the concept being taught.

Use several examples of fractions of things until they start to understand what the concept of a fraction is. They need to connect the abstract language of math with the concrete ideas it represents.

Now let’s go back to the exercise with the squares. Once Howie had our student understanding he was talking about parts he took two pieces of paper and drew a four part  rectangle on both of them. One piece of paper was coloured yellow. He cut this rectangle into four pieces. The first piece of paper was blue ( she had Irlen Syndrome and blue was the best colour for paper and acetates for her – see our website for informationIRLEN SYNDROME & DYSLEXICS ) so that her ability to see the paper clearly was not an issue – text on white paper is hard to see for those with Irlen compounding problems with learning fractions. Then he started to put one or more of the yellow pieces on the blue squares talking about whether they were one, two, three or four quarters. She got it immediately and actually moved onto adding fractions that session. She left with a smile on her face and her mom felt relieved. She was also able to do the exercises using  two dimensional squares for school and understand what she was doing so her answers were correct and not guesses.

What was accomplished with this process was filling the needs of a Dyslexic requiring meaning and connection to what is real. Dyslexics don’t easily follow sequences well and anything they learn has to be fully understood. They will generally not follow how a square divided up in portions on a flat piece of paper means because it doesn’t connect to anything real to them. Provide physical demonstrations, connect them to the diagram and now you have meaning.

So when you are having difficulty teaching Dyslexics to connect the dots of a concept make it real and then connect it to abstract written languages such as words, arithmetic and math. We have also found this helps kids who do not have Dyslexia.

Karey Hope
Dyslexia Victoria Online


“WHAT IS DYSLEXIA?” Dyslexia Victoria Online is introducing videos on Dyslexia Awareness, Teaching, Accommodations & Resources

We are introducing a series of videos about Dyslexia awareness, teaching and learning strategies, accommodations, computer programs and resources for children and adults. If you are interested please email us at:”.

We are also planning to have some webinars and involve people in the discussion portions of the webcast.
We welcome you to join us!

Cheers! Happy New Year!
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

2 + 2 equals 22

Karey and I were driving to nearby Victoria yesterday to view the venue we were considering using for our Second Annual full day Dyslexia Awareness Workshop. The one we did last February was so successful we had we were happy to do it again, especially because of all the new things we have discovered since last year.

The drive to view the place took us about an hour so we took that time to sort of roll some ideas around.  Karey and I spend a lot of time researching new techniques to help teach Dyslexics. While doing so we find information concerning studies about Right and Left Brained thinking and related topics. Karey had her laptop open to an article about how the Right Brain and Left perceive information differently. At first I thought this was just stuff I already knew and sure enough, most of what we talked about was familiar to both of us. Then I had an epiphany. Well maybe not an epiphany but I did make a connection I hadn’t thought about before.

As I have mentioned before I don’t consider myself  Dyslexic but I am very Right Brained and as a result I share many views about the difficulty of understanding abstracts with Karey, who is Dyslexic.  Karey mentioned something from the article she was reading about “2 + 2” and how this concept is perceived differently by the Left and Right brain. Can you imagine that, the Left and Right brain can actually come up with different answers to the question: what is 2 plus 2?

The mono-semantic nature of the left brain is consistent with its syntactical and arithmetical functionality. Broca’s area, or the language processing center of the brain, is a complex of nerve cells that structure a thought into a syntactically correct sentence. Broca’s area is predominantly in the left hemisphere, even for left-handed people. The scattered and poly-semantic thinking of the right brain is not very good at producing language or arithmetic. To the left brain, 2+2=4. To the right brain, maybe it is 4, maybe not. The right brain will eagerly search for scenarios in which 2+2 does not equal 4, and might be disappointed when it doesn’t find any.
Brack—March, 2005.

To just about everybody it is  well accepted that 2 plus 2 equals 4, but maybe not. One of the things I sometimes point out to people at our workshops is an example of how abstract our English language is. When we print the symbol 2 on a chalkboard or Smartboard we usually say this is the NUMBER 2. It is not the number 2 but rather the NUMERAL 2 and it represents a group of 2 things. Sure this is a tiny little distinction but an important one.  There is a very real difference between a symbol that refers to something and the actual concept described. So let’s look at the equation 2 plus 2.

When you add two groups of two things of course you are going to come up with four objects. But that Right Brain of mine went a different way. If you actually look at what the equation is says, put the symbol 2 and put it with the other symbol 2. So, 2 plus 2 equals 22. Does seem like a little thing to you? Yes it does and most teachers would have hard time accepting the logic of what I just described. So what is my point?

Right Brained individuals and dyslexics think on lots of different levels, they are always looking for connections to ideas. Processes can be improved, ideas can be looked at from different directions and many times a concept that seems pretty obvious to some people are not obvious to others. Right brained thinkers always look for these connections, they can’t help it.

This is a great ability when “out of the box” thinking is required which is often in the real world outside of school. But if a Dyslexic student looks at “2 + 2” and thinks “22” and they can if they misunderstand the instructions, they are marked wrong. Some of these children will bravely argue a point like this and get shut down. This can be confusing to them on one level but can also shut them down in the classroom to the point they start believing they are stupid. In the UK this is called RSI which stands for Repetitive Statement Injury and means if something is said enough times to someone they start to believe it’s true.

Thank goodness for Left and Right brained thinkers; different answers to the same question can just be considered creative.

Happy trails!
Howie deGraaf
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Atten: Dyslexics – fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too

Only great minds can read this. This is weird, but interesting!…” is an amusing email attachment you will find at the end of this blog that makes the rounds on the internet – but for Dyslexics – this is how they identify words. They recognize the shape and letters of the word; not necessarily the order of the letters except as they say in the blurb below, the first and last letter of the word. Dyslexics tend to rely on this method for reading and this can cause them to read words incorrectly because they are trying to recognize the “look” of the word.

This reading style also creates difficulty for a Dyslexic person’s ability to comprehend and remember what they have read because all their attention is directed to decoding the words they are reading and not automatically recognizing them. This is due to their issue memorizing the correct letter order of words. When many people read the text in blue below they will notice that they feel tired and confused about what they read. This is caused by their excessive effort to decode the words. Their brain can read them but is slowed down by the additional work to identify the words.

Another problem for Dyslexics is difficulty seeing words in their minds. They primarily see images or pictures, not necessarily words. By teaching a Dyslexic how to see the words in their minds and the correct order of the letters besides the first and last letter, their reading fluency improves a lot!

If I ask you to picture the word “car” in your mind, what do you see?  Most people see a car first and then the word if I ask them to think of the letters. Some see the word first and then the car.  Right-brained or Dyslexic people tend to see the car and struggle to see the word, if they can at all.  So think about it; if you can’t see the word in your mind how do you learn to spell and read?

This is actually very easy to do if the Dyslexic is taught to see words in their minds. We are always able to get a Dyslexic child to do this task quickly and easily in an assessment. This becomes an important step for remembering and seeing words and letters in their minds in our teaching process. I love this exercise because the child instantly gets a boost to their self-esteem.

By the way, what colour is your car or cars in your mind? Most people say red. Let me know the colour of your car! I would like to know the psychological or physiological reason behind this.  Does anyone know?

Only great minds can read this
This is weird, but interesting!

“fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too
Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.”

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it

Karey Hope
Founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

<strong>”</strong><strong>Only great minds can read this This is weird, but interesting!</strong><strong>…” </strong> is an amusing email attachment you will find at the end of this blog that makes the rounds on the internet – but for Dyslexics – this is how they learn words. They recognize the shape and letters of the word; not necessarily the order of the letters except as they say in the blurb below, the first and last letter of the word. Dyslexics tend to rely on this method for reading and this can cause them to read words incorrectly because they are trying to recognize the “look” of the word.

Blog, Web Changes, Book Recommendations and Distance Learning Courses – May 9, 2010

Hi, Howie deGraaf here.

By the time you read this,the old website should be gone and you can visit the new website. Karey Hope and I created the old site. It worked okay but we are not, in any way, website designers. Back in 2005 we figured the most efficient way to get people to learn about how we see the best way to approach Dyslexia Awareness and the best way to teach Dyslexics was to get onto the Internet. So we went online and got some advice and gave it a try. The old one worked but it was getting too complicated, the basis of it was formed by three people  (Karey, Andrew DuToit, a programmer by trade,  and myself).

The original co-founders of Dyslexia Victoria Online are Karey Hope and her mother Jan Turner. With three people designing that website, the focus of it was a little too broad. There were too many categories and it really was a little difficult to navigate. Last summer Jan officially retired due to a series of health issues. Since then Karey and I have made some significant changes to the website and the business. We are  using the website less for teaching and more for communicating with people. We hope to use the website to help get people going in  the right direction.

One of the newest products we offer is a pair of distance learning courses.“Course One – How the Right Brain Learns and Thinks” includes teaching aids, a study guide and workbook that teaches the individual how to understand Dyslexia as a Learning Difference and how to teach to it. The next course “Course Two – How to Assess and Evaluate the Dyslexic Student” includes instructions on how to assess for Dyslexic issues, and by using the instructions, how teach to these issues.

By the end of this year we should also have re-written the original books as well. The information in the books is going to be the same but we are adding many new concepts and teaching strategies. We are also making some formatting changes. Some of the language will be updated and we have found lots of images we want to put into them as well to demonstrate the teaching methods. We discovered the effectiveness of these images as we began to put more of them into our assessment reports,  presentations and workshops.

Our assessments have been going extremely well and very soon, perhaps in a month, there will a new testimonial section on the website with comments from the parents of the children we have created specialized teaching programs for.

One parent recently mentioned summer is rapidly approaching and she thought we should prepare for it by creating something special for parents who are helping children get ready for the new school year during the summer break. We hadn’t thought about the summer months as being any different from the rest of the year but really the summer can be a terrific opportunity for children to prepare for the upcoming school year. This parent said that most of the recommendations, that are the basis for the specialized teaching programs we make for the student, are actually just little bits of practice of specific skills but done on a consistent basis. With that in mind Karey and I have made a couple of special offers for parents for the summer. The assessments are going to include a couple of our books as well as some practice exercises that can be done completely independently from school work. I am offering sales on our books as well.

To help you learn more about our theory and perception of Dyslexia we are offering a 2 for 1 sale on two of our E-books from May 15th till the end of the summer:  “Dyslexia or Being Right Brained” and is a great to use as a primer guide on how we handle teaching to Dyslexia. Largely it explains why we don’t consider Dyslexia as a Learning Disability but rather simply a Learning Difference. The second book“Teaching the Dyslexic Student: Spelling and Reading” discusses Dyslexia Spelling and Language Arts issues and teaching strategies including why understanding Learning Styles is especially important when teaching a Dyslexic individual. It also contains the “The Spelling Notebook” which is a tool for helping Dyslexic students record spelling words they are having difficulty with. One of the big changes we are making to this book, in the reformatting later this year, is the addition of “The Fourteen Steps to Teaching  Dyslexics to Spell and Reading”. This mini manual has been extremely successful in helping Dyslexic students with spelling and reading. Parents and teachers have been contacting us to say that the results of using these teaching strategies have been rapid, often with results in less that a week. To anyone ordering the e-book “Teaching the Dyslexic Student: Spelling and Reading” we will include the download of the “The Fourteen Steps to Teaching Dyslexics to Spell and Read”.

So if you are thinking about helping your Dyslexic child get a head start on the next school year perhaps starting by using the two books I have mentioned would be a part of that plan.

Dyslexia or Being Right-brained E-book and Teaching the Dyslexic Student: Spelling and ReadingOrder both books today with our summer program!

Good luck and hope you have a great summer.

Howie deGraaf
Editor Dyslexia Victoria Online
Howie deGraaf - Dyslexia Victoria Online


We have found the young children around six years of age we assess for Dyslexia have a common issue. They generally have tremendous difficulty recognizing letters, numbers, words, the alphabet, counting in a correct order, printing and following instructions.  No surprise.

They generally squirm, roll their eyes, sigh and lean their heads on their hands when we pull out worksheets or manipulatives for the dreaded alphabet or numeracy exercises.   They will ask us if they could do something else, anything else.  We listen to them struggle to identify letters, guess randomly at what a word might be, and attempt to print their letters legibly.  The whole experience is excruciating and frustrating for them.

Recently I was visiting my daughter and her family in California and spent some time helping my six year old granddaughter, Isabell with her spelling and reading homework.  I don’t get many opportunities to work with kids who are successful learning to read by grade one so it was a bit of a shock.  She had been able to recite the alphabet accurately since she was about four.  Isabell could also count to one hundred and was doing well with basic arithmetic functions.  She was sounding out words, blending easily and reading out loud with fluency. Her printing was fairly neat and she was able to stay on the lines. Spelling tests were not an issue for her and she enjoyed school.  Obviously Isabell has no issues with Dyslexia.

Wow, what a difference comparing her school experience with many of the Dyslexic children we work with. We notice they don’t start to really identify and remember letters, words and numbers until about grade three.   By this time they are starting to fall seriously behind in school, becoming stressed and developing low self-esteem.  These bad feelings and their fears make it even more difficult to open up to learning because they are starting to believe they are stupid and beginning to shut down.  Compound that with “left-brained” teaching methods in their classroom they don’t understand which makes their school experience even more confusing and maddening.

Teaching Dyslexic children to read in the first grade is like trying to teach quantum physics to elementary school students.  They are not ready yet. The ability to understand abstract symbols like letters, numbers and what they represent comes at a later age for Dyslexics than other children.  Also, Dyslexic children decode words, letters and numbers with the right side of the brain instead of like the majority of the world’s population who use the language center of the left hemisphere to decode. The right hemisphere thinks in whole images not words or the parts of words so trying to decode letters, phonemes, etc. can often be useless when they are younger.

But for most Dyslexics they can learn to spell, read and work with numeracy when they are ready and with appropriate teaching methods. Maybe it would be better to focus on other skills for the first two grades and slowly introduce letters, numbers and words and in ways that make sense to them.  They could be allowed to have extensive practice printing.

Dyslexics tend to be exceptionally bright and although they may not be ready for reading they can think about complex concepts on many levels with a maturity beyond their years.  If learning to read can be adapted to their needs and delayed a little they can then apply their incredible intelligence and become successful in school and often top of their class.  Dyslexic children wouldn’t have to experience low self-esteem due to their reading and spelling skills and they would be  ready to realize their full potential.  Wow, wouldn’t that be great?

Karey Hope
Co-founder of DyslexiaVictoria Online

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