Inclusive Teaching: Easy-to-Implement Accommodations for Dyslexic Students
Audience focus: All
Research suggests that at least 10% of the world population is dyslexic, which represents 1 out of ten students in our classrooms. Dyslexics even represent 20% or more of the population in fields like computer science, math, economics, mechanics, sports, art, and drama.
Dyslexia typically makes reading, spelling, memorization, and organization more difficult. Dyslexics often have to work harder and longer compared to others to yield the same or inferior results, which is physically tiring and emotionally draining. This is particularly true when learning a foreign language, and even more so for a language like English, in which it is difficult to predict the pronunciation of words based on their spelling and vice versa.
As teachers we can implement some very simple practices to remove some of the barriers for our dyslexic students and make their learning and test-taking more efficient. We are going to share the results of a survey we carried out among the dyslexic students of UCLouvain regarding their preferences for class and test accommodations and their perceived efficiency. In cooperation with specialists at UCLouvain we have developed a list of recommendations for language teachers based on the results of this survey as well as on the literature. We would like to share these recommendations with you, as well as a checklist which you can use to efficiently communicate with your dyslexic students about their specific needs and preferences from the beginning of the school year.
Charlotte Peters teaches English and German for Specific Purposes at the language institute of Université Catholique de Louvain. Her focus lies on English for Engineering and Bioengineering as well as Business English. She also prepares students for standardized English proficiency tests.
She has experience with course design, test design, and creating course books and new teaching materials, including for online learning modules. She coordinates courses and teaching teams for large student cohorts. She also has experience with training university faculty and co-teaching in the context of Content and Language Integrated Learning.
Charlotte is interested in teaching languages to students with specific learning differences, and particularly in supporting students with dyslexia. At her institute she is part of a working group which aims to better understand the needs of dyslexic students in language courses and language testing, and to support the teaching staff in meeting these needs.
Charlotte holds a Master’s degree in Germanic languages (English and German) from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven as well as a Master’s degree in European Studies from Université Catholique de Louvain. At the beginning of her career she worked for an international non-profit organization, before moving into teaching and becoming CELTA-certified. Her mother tongue is German, she has bilingual proficiency in English and French, and she speaks Dutch at an upper-intermediate level, as well as some Swedish.