Read and Spell Blog

What are learning difficulties?

What are learning difficulties?

Learning difficulties, known as learning disabilities in North America, are conditions that impact on an individual’s ability to gain knowledge and skills at the same rate as his or her peers. They may be due to a mental handicap or a cognitive disorder.

Having a learning difficulty does not make someone less intelligent, it just means they learn in a different way that can render traditional classroom activities problematic. That’s why people with learning difficulties often require specific strategy training and customized lessons in order to overcome challenges and make progress in an academic environment.

Left-handed and dyslexic

Left-handed and dyslexic

It is sometimes said that certain mood disorders and learning difficulties are more common in people who favour their left hand. Researchers have not yet found a genetic link between dyslexia and handedness and individuals with dyslexia, a learning difficulty that impacts on reading, writing and spelling abilities, are split 50:50 between right and lefthandedness.

However, there are fewer lefthanded people in the world. In fact, the difference is 90:10. This means that dyslexia may be more commonly found in lefthanded people but the relationship is not necessarily causal. There is also the question of whether or not it is more common in boys than girls.

Some evidence suggests dyslexia is just as prevalent in girls as boys but not as well recognized, while other studies (Quinn & Wagner 2015) have found reading difficulties occur more often in male individuals.

Teaching literacy skills to adults

Teaching literacy skills to adults

Teaching reading to older learners can be a challenging experience for educators in adult basic skills programs. Teachers may find that every student in a classroom requires different material and that individuals vary greatly in ability level depending on their earlier experiences with reading instruction.

Often students experience frustration and anxiety that can get in the way of learning. They may have negative associations with school or learning difficulties that have gone undiagnosed and cause them to struggle with the basics of sounding out words.

However, with the right strategies in place and plenty of patience, praise and encouragement, teachers can help adult students overcome these challenges and reach their full potential.

How to improve writing skills in English

How to improve writing skills in English

Writing is one of the most important skills English as a second language learners must master, particularly for students and working professionals. That’s because unlike in speaking exercises, when you write you leave a lasting record of your language.

Mistakes in spelling, grammar and word choice are immediately evident. And while literacy skills are not a reflection of intelligence or knowledge, poor writing can cause a student to receive lower marks, despite their understanding of the subject being discussed. In a professional context, people may judge you as lazy or untrustworthy if you send emails full of mistakes.

They are also likely to assume your spoken ability in English is quite low, though this may or may not be the case. That’s why it is important to improve writing skills in English before they prevent you from reaching your full potential at school or in the workplace.

Learning to spell for adults

Learning to spell for adults

Not all adults have perfect spelling skills. In fact, many have developed bad spelling habits over the years. This is even more so the case today given the nature of communication on social media networks and mobile texting.

Abbreviations are rampant in order to save space in posts and message chains and people ignore English capitalization and punctuation rules. It’s also the case that individuals who dropped out of school may simply have missed out on learning how to spell in the first place.

And while spelling is only one aspect of productive language knowledge, it tends to be a rather obvious one. You may not know a term’s full meaning but when you misspell a word, everyone notices.

Handwriting difficulties

Handwriting difficulties

When we write, we want the language we produce to be recognizable to others. Our handwriting should be legible so that it doesn't hinder the reader’s comprehension and our text must conform to established norms when it comes to punctuation, formatting and spelling.

But putting words down on paper is not as straightforward as it may seem. In fact, there’s a complex process of orthographic encoding that we rely on to help us form the letters in words and use them correctly.

If the mechanics involved in writing cause cognitive or physical strain, as is the case with most common handwriting problems, this can impact on our thought process and reduce the complexity of our writing. It also results in feelings of frustration and low self-esteem.

For a child with dysgraphia, a condition that results in poor handwriting, producing written language is a struggle that can drastically affect performance at school and get in the way of a child expressing him or herself in writing.

Teaching adults to read

Teaching adults to read

In 1999 The UK government published “A Fresh Start”, a report of the working group chaired by Sir Claus Moser which took a hard look at literacy and numeracy in the UK. The report acknowledged that approximately seven million adults – which works out to about one in five - were not reading at a level which could be expected of an eleven-year-old child.

The report also included a target: that by 2010 this statistic should be reduced by half, lifting approximately 3.5 million adults out of functional illiteracy.

It was recommended that as a longer-term strategy, the elimination of functional illiteracy and innumeracy should be made a government commitment. Sadly, it's now twenty years later, and the literacy target has not yet been met.

The National Literacy Trust provides this statistic for the end of 2015: 5.2 million adults still struggle with reading and are functionally illiterate.

Jobs that require typing skills

5 Jobs that require typing skills

Most of us use a computer every day. And in the workplace, it’s no longer just administrative and clerical workers who require keyboarding skills. For the majority of job seekers, typing is as fundamental as using Word or being able to navigate the web.

That’s because almost everyone sends emails, even artists and salesmen, and if it takes you several hours to do the record-keeping and communications part of your job, you may not be as competitive a candidate as the next person applying for the position.

Adult basic skills education

What is adult basic education?

From kindergarten to higher education, school prepares individuals to live and work in our society.

So what happens when someone leaves school early?

Consider arriving in a foreign country as an adult and not having the language skills you need to talk to your neighbors, let alone pass a citizenship test.

That's where adult basic skills programs come in. Adult education ensures everyone has access to the training in basic reading, writing and numeracy skills that they need to be functioning members of their community.

Classes will typically cover English and Math but may also include career skills, such as computer training.

TOP TIP: Understanding how to use a computer is important for mature learners and can also become a career skill. Being able to touch-type greatly increases the efficiency with which you work at the computer. With TTRS, you can learn typing, and improve reading and spelling skills at the same time. Learn more.