It’s confusion that makes kids shut down

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  • Saturday, 03 Nov 2018

I REFER to the article “Transforming dyslexics one word at a time” (StarMetro, Oct 4) and wish to touch on a few points raised with regard to dyslexia.

The National Organisation for Dyslexia Malaysia president Dr Mullai A. Ramaiah had said that “dyslexia is a state in which one finds it extremely challenging to bring a sound to the written letter.”

A majority of children classified as dyslexic shut down when things are confusing to them.

As Thorndike had said in 1913, initial input is vital.

About 30% of children shut down or disengage from learning to read when new teachings are contrary to what they have learned initially.

New learning builds on previous learning. Children who are prone to shutting down cannot transfer what they have newly learned unless they can connect them with what they have learned.

This 30% find it “challenging” to bring a sound to the written letter because sounds of letters are taught wrongly by most schools in Malaysia. Initial input is wrong.

As such, it has nothing to do with dyslexic children being unable to bring “a sound to the written letter”.

A majority of those classified as dyslexic shut down when they are confused and are then wrongly

classified as “dyslexic” and “slow learners”.

If we teach children the correct sounds of the alphabet, we will reduce the number of children classified as dyslexic and slow learners drastically.

The article also says sounds of the language or phonics are taught and not the letter names as in the traditional method; I would like to ask why would we not teach children letter names?

If you do not teach letter names, how would you get children to read words beginning with letter names such as bee, deep, eagle, giraffe etc?

The article stated that “where phonics does not work all the way, as in teaching English, the whole word approach is used”.

I feel this is the wrong approach. Whole language method has been rejected a long time ago.

When vowels are taught with extraneous vowel sounds, the children predisposed to shutting down disengage from learning to read.

These children are then wrongly classified as “dyslexic”.

As such, the problem is with the teaching of phonics and has nothing to do with “dyslexics” being unable to bring a sound to the written letter.

We have to ask as to how the above was achieved? Why did the children need remediation in the first place?


Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

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