6 steps to help you master new words

As dyslexic students settle into their year groups, they will encounter:

  • New subject words (topic vocabulary)
  • More complex ideas
  • Higher expectations of classroom rules
  • Increased expectations of independent study

As a dyslexic student, or parent of a dyslexic student, you will know how challenging these increased demands can be.

It is important to be able to learn new key words (topic vocabulary) and to use the words with confidence when discussing or writing about a topic or concept.

Simply trying to remember a list of abstract words is unlikely to help with bringing words to life and retaining them in long-term memory.

These steps can help with learning words from foreign languages too.

Here are 6 steps for dyslexic students to follow, to help with learning new vocabulary. Follow each step, in order. Don’t skip any steps!

#1. Say the word aloud regularly until you can say it fluently. Try recording yourself, to check your fluency. Check that you are pronouncing the word accurately.

#2. Next, find out the exact meaning of the word so that you understand it. Think of occasions at home and at school when you could say the word in daily conversation or lessons, e.g. ‘evaporation’. Is it safe (and allowed by parents) for you to set up a small practical experiment at home, to help you understand?

#3. Now, write the word down on a large ‘post-it’ note, with a small visual symbol or picture that reminds you of the word. Stick your ‘post-it’ on a board or wall where you will see it every day. Can you recall (spell aloud) the word if you turn it over? Test yourself every day for week, then occasionally after that.

#4. Then, write the word on paper in joined handwriting, three times a day for one week. After one week, can you handwrite the word accurately without looking down while writing?

#5. Now, you are ready to use the word as much as you can at school and at home, in talking, writing, homework, revision and exams.

#6. Consider making a 3-slide PowerPoint presentation, to teach others (family or friends) what this word means. You could include, perhaps:

  • The word typed in bold,
  • A simple picture associated with the word,
  • A diagram to show the word’s meaning,
  • A sentence (or dialogue) in everyday language, to show what the word means.

Have fun learning unfamiliar words!

Shropshire Dyslexia Tutoring