Vocabulary and Dyslexia

Children with dyslexia are often at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to acquiring new vocabulary.  Those with reading challenges must rely, for the most part, on building their word bank by the spoken word, rather than the written word.  Even more frustrating, some children with dyslexia also struggle with auditory processing issues, so even spoken vocabulary is not always easy to acquire and internalize.

For these children, it is even more important to receive focused and individualized vocabulary instruction designed with their strengths and weaknesses in mind.  A multisensory approach to vocabulary learning, for example, is often helpful.  By using word activities that involve touch, sound, and sight, children with learning weaknesses in one mode can compensate with their strengths in others.

Children with reading differences also usually benefit from a dual approach of both phonetic and sight word instruction in vocabulary.  This combination focus on both the visual and auditory aspects of language can help cement new words and word meanings for those with dyslexia.

Other ideas for helping students with dyslexia improve their vocabulary:

  • previewing new vocabulary in a book passage before having them read the passage.
  • be sure to interject unfamiliar or unknown words into everyday conversations with them
  • teaching them how to use online dictionaries and thesauruses – - especially those with auditory support
  • encouraging them to play word games both off and online, such as the ones at Vocabulary.co.il

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