Use of apps/computer-based resources for teaching reading and spelling skills to dyslexic children

Dyslexic children require responsive, sounds-based teaching that is delivered by someone who can listen to and respond to their errors and identify the reasons for their errors. This is very hard (if not impossible) to achieve with a technology-based programme.

There are many things that can go wrong with relying solely on technology to teach a child – including non-identification of errors in understanding, wrongly progressing the child to the next step when they have guessed the response from multiple options, and not using or responding to the child’s own accent and pronunciation to guide the sound-based learning.

We do NOT recommend relying on these resources for the fundamental teaching of reading and spelling skills.

However, when these sorts of programmes are used to reinforce specific lessons that have been delivered in-person, they can be a useful addition and variation for practice of those skills and that knowledge.

Many of these tech resources come with optional workbooks and optional in-person tutoring components, but allow (and even encourage) people to buy the tech element as a separate tool that can be used by itself. This optional aspect of the things that are actually crucial, easily confuses parents and teachers about what they are purchasing and how comprehensive it is for teaching reading/spelling.

This also needs to be kept in mind when you are investigating or evaluating any computer-based resource or app and when considering the evidence for its effectiveness (as to whether the evidence relates to the use of all the available components as a whole unit versus just the app component).

Please keep the above points in mind when recommending or using e-resources.

We are happy to recommend these computer based programmes and apps as review only once the concept has been explicitly taught face to face by a teacher.

Members of the deb Facebook page have enjoyed using the following apps and programmes:

  • Word Shark
  • Word Chain
  • Nessy
  • Syllable Swipe app
  • Name That Rule app
  • Name That Syllable app
  • OG Card Deck app
  • Syllable Division app
  • Name That Cutting app
  • Wordwall

Alison Clarke from Spelfabet created a list of apps and some mini reviews for literacy.

This document was created by Linda Kimpton, a founding member of Dyslexia Evidence Based and a leader in the deb community.