Spelling and Dyslexia

'I may be a rotten speller but I'm not stupid!'

Does this apply to you?

English spelling is famous for being difficult - some people think it's amazing that any English children learn to spell accurately. Many people do have particular difficulty because their brains are organised in such a way that the skills needed for spelling do not come automatically. This difficulty is sometimes described as dyslexia.

Most dyslexic people do learn to read, although they may not find this easy. Spelling, however, usually remains a problem - and it has nothing to do with intelligence.

Some of the world's greatest achievers have been awful at spelling, for example:

Albert Einstein, scientist, thought of by many to be the greatest genius who ever lived

Some other famous dyslexics:

Thomas Edison, inventor of the electric light bulb, the microphone etc.
Agatha Christie, author
Richard Rogers, architect, designer of Llloyd's Building, London and the Pompidou Centre, Paris
Richard Branson, entrepreneur and adventurer
Henry Winkler "The Fonz", actor and author of Hank Zipzer books
Tom Cruise, Cher, Bob Hoskins, Anthony Hopkins, Sarah Brightman and several other well-known actors

It is no coincidence that many famous dyslexics are great scientists or designers. Dyslexic people often have talents in this area. Some are lucky enough to have the opportunities to develop their talents despite their spelling problems; others have been held back by the mistaken belief that poor spelling means all-round low ability.

If you are affected by dyslexia, don't be embarrassed by poor spelling - boast to people about your other talents! A dyslexic writer and reviewer, Thelma Good, Theatre Editor of edinburghguide.com, always signs herself: "I am dyslexic and therefore a creative speller!"

It's estimated that 10% of the population are dyslexic to some extent - that means over 5 million people in Britain alone. One in 25 is said to be affected badly enough to need specialised help. These days, most schools and colleges do recognise dyslexia, but the extra help provided varies a great deal. Years ago, the situation was much worse: little was known about dyslexia and children who had literacy problems at school were often put in the lowest classes for all subjects. Many left school lacking in confidence and have not reached their full potential.

The author of this program has specialist training in dyslexia and has taught at the Dyslexia Institute. The course follows the principles of multi-sensory teaching: using sound, sight and movement (writing or typing) to teach spellings and to fix them in the mind.

Spellzone does not claim to be a complete 'cure-all' for dyslexics. Many will need extra help at some stages of the course. However, it should fill some of the gaps in basic spelling knowledge and encourage people to go further in developing their own talents.

Teachers of dyslexics should find Spellzone useful, either as the basis of a course or as a back-up to their own material. Please see the 'Notes for teachers and tutors'.


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