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ELT well: helping teachers support learners

ELT well

Anne Margaret Smith sitting at a desk

About ELT well

ELT well:

...supports teachers in their work with students who have learning difficulties or disabilities, ...is committed to providing practical, flexible and relevant professional development and advice for language teachers, ...offers fresh ways of approaching familiar teaching situations.

ELT well was set up and is run by me, Anne Margaret Smith. Here's a bit about me (in case you're curious):

I have been fortunate enough to have lived in Kenya, Germany, Sweden and the UK, to have worked in private schools, primary schools, colleges, universities, people's front rooms and all kinds of work places.

I have had the pleasure of working with multilingual children, disgruntled teenagers, emergency rescue teams, weary factory workers, eccentric senior citizens (including a real live duchess!) and culture-shocked asylum seekers. Some of them had sensory impairments, some were dyslexic, some had chronic illnesses or physical disabilities, and I learnt something from each of them.

I am currently working with dyslexic students at the University of Cumbria and I am an active member of the South Cumbria Dyslexia Association (SCuDA).


As part of the 10th anniversary celebrations, ELT well has adopted the Ruth Hayman Trust as our charity of the year.

Ruth Hayman Trust

The Ruth Hayman Trust awards small grants to support the education and training of adults who have come to settle in the UK, speak English as a second or other language and have difficulty paying for their studies. Most successful applicants are asylum seekers or refugees.

As fees for courses increase and education budgets are cut, the Trust's financial support is needed more than ever. In order to make grants to students, the Trust has to raise money. More than 94% of the money raised goes directly to supporting individuals. Even quite small sums can make an enormous difference.

Find out more about their work by visiting the Ruth Hayman Trust website.

ELT well is supporting this work in a number of ways this year. Anne Margaret has devised a new quiz for the Trust to sell on their stall at conferences and exhibitions. At all ELT well events there will be a small display offering more information about the organisation, and a fund-raising event is being planned for the summer. More details will be found here, as they become available. ELT well is also contributing prizes to the Auction Aid event being held in London on May 22nd by the London NATECLA branch. Book tickets for Auction Aid Tickets.

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And the winner is.... dysTEFL!

DysTEFL Dyslexia for Teachers of English as a Foreign Language

The British Council have awarded an ELTon for Course Innovation to dysTEFL. Anne Margaret worked on this EU-funded project, which produced a free, online training course for English language teachers who want to know more about how to support their dyslexic learners. The materials are available from the website: www.dysTEFL.eu. The judges described the dysTEFL programme as "A much-needed course for teachers and one that addresses a gap in the market".

Although Anne Margaret and the whole dysTEFL team are delighted at winning this prestigious international award, it seems that the real winners are dyslexic learners across Europe whose teachers can now understand their difficulties and support them in their language learning.

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The dysTEFL teacher training materials are now available from the dysTEFL website. The on-line self-study course is absolutely free to access, and leads teachers through 10 units which cover issues such as understanding dyslexia and other SpLDs, the impact that SpLDs have on language learning, and techniques and strategies for making English more accessible to dyslexic learners.

Along the way I have picked up the following qualifications:

My PhD combined my experience in English Language teaching and Learner Support and explored how the issue of inclusive education is addressed in teacher training and education for EFL teachers.

I think it is important for teachers to be on the other side of the desk from time to time, so that we remember how it feels. Language classes that I have been a student in include: Ancient Greek, Anglo-Saxon, British Sign Language, French, German, Italian, Luo, Maori, Swahili, Swedish and Polish. I hold qualifications in some of these languages, and sometimes even conversations!

Just for the record, I am a member of the following organisations:

I hold an Assessment Practising Certificate issued by PATOSS.

Case Study

An FE college became aware that many of their vocational students had English as an additional language, and they did not know whether their additional support needs were language based, or due to underlying cognitive differences. ELT well spent two days with the learning support team and the English language unit and helped them to develop assessment strategies that fitted into their exiting systems and enabled them to differentiate the support needed by these learners.