Dyslexic children have no problem learning orthographically consistent languages like Malay, Tamil, Italian , Japanese and many other languages.
They however have a problem with orthographically inconsistent language like English.
There is no way you can pronounce the following words if you have not heard them before. A few words as an illustration would be, chalet, quay, island, and know.
Many words in English are irregular. They are not spelt the way they sound and this is basically why dyslexics have a problem reading English as opposed to reading Malay or Han Yu Pin Yin.
1. Multiple pronunciation for the same spelling : ‘wind’ (as in the winter wind) and ‘wind’ (as in wind down the window).
2. Spelt similarly and pronounced similarly : ‘cut’, ‘but’, but there is an exception: ‘put’.
3. Different spelling but pronounced the same: ‘pear’, ‘pair’, ‘road’, ‘rode’, ‘hare’, ‘hair’.
4. There are many words where letters are silent eg. ‘Salmon’ , ‘plumber’, and ‘debt’ to name just a few.
There are 26 letters in English to represent 44 sounds. Inadvertently some of the letters must have more than one sound. For instance:
a) The letter ‘a’ represents 4 different sounds as in ‘bat’, ‘mate’, ‘among’, ‘salt’. In addition when combined with other letters it can have yet another new sound –‘meat’.
b) Even consonants are not spared. The letter 'c' represents both the sound 'k' and 's'. The word 'cat' carries the 'k' sound while 'city' carries the 's' sound. The letter ‘g’ is used to spell both the words ‘gift’ and ‘giant’.
c) There are some sounds that can be represented by more than one letter. The 'f' sound can be represented by the letter 'f' and 'ph' (as in ‘phone').
From the onset I let my students know that many letters have different sounds and that we’ll learn them as we come to them. I point out to them the different sounds the letter makes when we come to those letters as we read. I than compare it with the previous sound the letter had made in a different word. For a student with dyslexia this is very important. He should be informed from the onset that the letter ‘A’ and the other vowels, as you come to them, have more than one sound. This prepares his mind when the time comes to learn the other sounds represented by the letters. I will clarify this again on a later date as this is an extremely important point as you will come to understand later.