Compensatory measures for ESL students with dyslexia


Dyslexic thinkers have brilliant ideas yet serious difficulties to express them in writing. Let’s not let them fall through the cracks of the system.



a high proportion of prisoners are dyslexic

40% millionaires are dyslexic


If you have dyslexic students in the English classroom you may find these research based interventions useful!


  • Use templates to write reports, etc. (i.e. How to write).
  • Give dyslexic learners a structure where they can fill in the information.
  • Provide writing frames and graphic organisers.
  • Chunk into smaller tasks, do not give the full page but a little part.
  • Metacognition (helping understanding oneself: What can help you as a dyslexic?).
  • Let dyslexic learners express themselves with different methods.
  • Use drawings and/or mind mapping as long as the information has been retained.
  • Play pelmanism games to learn vocabulary.
  • Dyslexic learners are always looking for hooks to learn vocabulary (i.e. Name studies that end in -ology)
  • Do not put dyslexic learners on spot (i.e. give questions before the interview).
  • Multi sensorial approach like showing pictures next to a new word or using YouTube videos they can stop and watch 10 times.
  • Discussion and debate that allow them to use the new words they have learnt.
  • Do not stress dyslexic learners before you ask a question by telling them I’m going to ask you a question.
  • Show appreciation of their effort, stimulate and motivate them continuously.
  • Allow post it or little white boards to use for memory where they can write a note or a visual.
  • Use different colours when giving instructions for what you want them to do. 
  • Put into practice a kinaesthetic approach (acting out or singing or poetry).
  • Introduce mneumonics, personalising and visualising in your explanations.
  • Teaching needs to be cummulative, repeat several times, do it in different ways and check that it is remembered. Lesson can end up with a Storyboard of what it was about. 
  • Dyslexics will most probably not read the whole sentence so key words can be highlighted and bullets are useful.
  • Writing barely as possible is what we want to do with dyslexics.
  • Focus on more coursework and project-led assignments and include these in your assessments wherever possible.
  • Bear in mind Dyslexic Thinking skills are the skills the workplace needs.



Dyslexic thinkers have brilliant ideas and difficulties to express them in writing




– Their ability to manipulate information is difficult resulting in lots of ideas mixed up in chaos and needing structure.

– They struggle with spelling.

– Their visual processing impacts on concentration.

– Dyslexic brains follow different pathways for learning efficiently taking longer than neurotypical students to finish.

– Dyslexic learners will read ⅓ as much as non-dyslexics.

– Their listening skills may be unreliable but they don’t want to appear rude or that they have not understood.

– Their speed at processing texts may be slower, by the time they’ve reached the end of the passage they may have to re read it.

– They need that thinking time before they can write a composition on a given topic, check the meaning or the spelling of words.

– Dyslexics are not really “procrastinators” they actually need the extra time because they have great Problem solving skills in fact which causes stress, tiredness and attention issues.

– There are time management issues.

– There are organizational skills problems.

– There are working memory difficulties.

– There are phonological skills differences (words mispronounced).

– Their verbal processing may be challenging, for instance (i.e. they know it’s a “b” but they write it as a “d”).

– There is not a connection range as in a logical brain leaving more room for creativity.

– There may be a language delay which makes it hard to follow instructions. 




SOURCE: British Dyslexia Association / Changedyslexia  / Made By Dyslexia / Atención Diversidad Región Murcia.

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