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Dyslexia and Non-English Language Learning

by User Not Found | Oct 18, 2012

There are a lot of resources available for language learning, some much more suitable for dyslexic students than others. But there seem to be some substantial gaps in tools which are very popular in English, but seem to have no equivalent in other languages, or translations, as yet.

Some of our products are available in other languages.


  1. Kurzweil 3000 for PC can now read in a number of languages other than English (French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian). It also comes with a variety of dictionaries to translate between English and these languages. In some languages there is even a choice of small and large dictionaries.
  2. textHELP Read & Write, which offers writing support tools as well as speech feedback, will allow you to install other language SAPI (Speech Application Programming Interface) engines, if you can find one that allows itself to work with textHELP!
  3. ClaroRead, ClaroRead Plus and WordRead are all text-to-speech applications that can be shipped with additional speech engines in most Western European languages.
  4. Penfriend XL provides word prediction, an on-screen keyboard and speech output in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, Dutch and Swedish.

Scanning Text in Other Languages

If you have a suitable Text-to-Speech engine you can hear this text read out to you. Abbyy FineReader can scan in a wide range of languages.

Speech Recognition

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is available in.French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish and Japanese. Most if not all versions also include an English speech recognition engine allowing you to dictate in either language. For up-to-date details, please contact us .

Writing, Planning and Structuring Written Work

Graphical organisers, concept or mind mapping applications canbe great tools for planning writing. There are numerous affordable applications available. Inspiration, the most popular package, is only available in English, US Spanish and French. Mind mapping programs that have been developed for business, such as MindGenius (English) and Mind Manager (English & German), tend to be more complicated to use and have many more functions including linking into MS Office applications. Most mind mapping programs have demo versions available to try out the programs, so it is worth comparing them to find which application suits you.

Tools for Away from the Computer

  1. Franklin electronic dictionaries and spell checkers help with spelling and translation in the major European languages. But they can only speak (which can be helpful if you cannot recognise the word shown) in English and Spanish.
  2. A voice recorder for recording notes and instructions, for helping with short term memory, and for learning and revising vocabulary.
  3. and you should also bear in mind whether the student has relevant visual problems.

If You Are Learning or Using English

  1. Kurzweil 3000 comes with a variety of dictionaries to translate between English and French, Spanish, German, Dutch, or Italian. In some languages there is even a choice of small and large dictionaries. Kurzweil 3000 is probably now the best tool for helping dyslexic learners (and others) learn English.
  2. textHELP! Read & Write is designed for people who have difficulty reading or writing English and it helps with learning vocabulary and spelling. It will also help with pronunciation. The talking spelling checker and dictionary can help any learner of English, but particularly one who is dyslexic.

Resources for English as a Second Language

The University of Hull has a major CTI (Computers in Teaching Initiative) site for Modern Languages, has a software database which contains details of over 1100 language-related software applications, and lists reviews of them.

Linguanet hosted by the Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (CILT) lists a lot of resources, including a lot of software which is available for review at their London centre. Alas there’s no qualitative comment and no web links to the publishers.

Can You Help Get Products Translated into Your Own Language?

From time to time people contact us to say that they would like to translate one of the products that we sell into their own language. Before you do so, you should bear in mind that this is an expensive process costing tens of thousands of dollars in research, programming, documentation, testing and packaging. The mostly small organisations who produce this specialist software are usually at full stretch producing, updating and maintaining products for the English speaking markets, which account for a very high proportion of the world market for computer based products. They have to do this to keep competitive. Even if you offer them large amounts of definite money, they may not be immediately keen. It is sometimes possible to get another company to do the translation, but it is difficult for teaching products, as these do not just need translating, but often need partially redesigning to meet the different language needs and customs of a different culture. But even if the work is contracted out, it will inevitably need quite a lot of supervision from senior people in the development team, who have other priorities.

In addition, the tools which the developers need - text to speech engines, dictionaries, word lists, spell checkers, thesauruses - may not be nearly as easy to find in languages other than English.

But if you can help them solve these problems, above all by guaranteeing sales, the developers are always looking for new markets. We hope that it will not be too long before other nationals can enjoy the tools which English speaking people with dyslexia now benefit from.