By Mr Edmen Leong, Director Specialised Education Services, Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS)
Can struggling readers or learners with dyslexia be encouraged to read? How can we use technology in the classroom to help readers discover the worlds hidden in books? How shall we teach struggling learners?
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to read, spell, comprehend text, and write. DAS has developed programmes to address the challenges faced by learners with dyslexia using an adapted version of the Orton-Gillingham (OG) Approach. This is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing and spelling do not come easily to individuals. | Read More |
The use of technology can be seen in the DAS classroom. Some examples include the administration of tests and assessments to track the progress of learners, and the use of interactive e-books to encourage reading.
I shall elaborate on the use of interactive e-books for learners with dyslexia. One of the biggest challenges for dyslexic readers is the inaccessibility of printed words in books. The development of interactive e-books overcomes this difficulty by having the literature read aloud to the dyslexic learners, and in the process, vouchsafe them opportunities to expand their vocabulary, linguistic finesse, and general knowledge through the literature.
An ongoing research project conducted by my colleague on the use of e-books for such learning objectives suggested that younger readers who used to struggle with reading became a lot more motivated to read after being introduced to e-books. This study is expected to be published in end-2020.
While the e-book application can open doors to new knowledge and literature for struggling and dyslexic readers, it is important to understand the reasons behind reading motivation for struggling readers or learners with dyslexia, and explore the possibility of these readers being able to eventually read independently.
On top of the studies on technology, we are particularly interested in investigating the possibility of supporting struggling learners who are not dyslexic. While there is a lot more to explore in this area in terms of research, we have conducted a small study aimed at understanding this possibility in one of our programmes. Results from that study indicated significant effects of interventions on struggling learners who do not have dyslexia (Abdul Razak et al., 2018).
The programmes at DAS are based on established teaching practices and further evaluated by our researchers to ensure relevance in the local context. For instance, the effectiveness of the OG Approach adopted by DAS was validated through an in-depth study conducted in 2015 (Lim and Oei, 2015). The evaluations and recommendations for improvement of the programmes run by DAS are published in various research papers, which can be accessed at https://das.org.sg/publications/49-research-journal.html.
Case Study 1
Look Mummy! I can read!
The mother of a participant in the research involving the use of e-books shared her joy of seeing her 6-year-old son picking up reading through an e-book application. Initially, the young boy would get the application to read aloud to him. After a while, he progressed to reading the text on his own. She showed a video of her son expressing his excitement and motivation in being able to read independently with his growing collection of e-books in the application. Both mother and child were ecstatic after realising that the boy was now able to read independently.
Case Study 2
YOU CAN READ TOO!
I was particularly encouraged by one of my teenage students who would bring a book into class every week for silent reading during the break. Over time, she started sharing the stories she had read with her peers. This eventually led me to spend time in the library picking out books for everyone in the class to read. After a while, it became a habit for the class to visit the library every week. I was amazed at how this student managed to influence her peers who were all struggling readers, and turn them into avid learners who enjoyed reading and visiting the library. It is one of my interests to further study the impact of peer influence on the motivation of struggling readers to read and learn, and how this could eventually be applied to large groups of struggling readers
- Lim, L., & Oei, A. C. (2015). Reading and spelling gains following one year of Orton-Gillingham intervention in Singaporean students with dyslexia. British Journal of Special Education, 42(4), 374-389.
- Abdul Razak, T. E., See, E., Tan, S. H. J. & Leong, E. (2018). Exploring the effectiveness of the English Examination Skills Programme on struggling non-dyslexic learners. Asia Pacific Journal of Developmental Differences, 5(2), 141 – 162.