Dyslexia 2 – Tape-recorder to improve reading

In this article, I am going to talk about how to use a simple tape-recorder (with a “record” feature), to re-train your brain to learn to SEQUENCE what you hear and read. Why is that important? Because, although reading is a visual decoding process, it is also an auditory/verbal one as well. And, as anyone who struggles with this disorder will tell you, they often have trouble remembering what they hear.

What we will be doing by using a tape-recorder is reinforcing and improving fluency skills– which in turn will help the reader’s comprehension. In technical terms, it is called a “multi-sensory strategy.”


Get a short article from a newspaper or magazine, or even this post. Or, if you are working with a child, use a sentence or short paragraph from a school or favourite story. Now, slowly read the entire article or paragraph into the tape-recorder. At this point, do not worry about comprehension, just recording each and every word.

Once the recording is finished, put on earphones and listen to what you recorded, carefully following the text with a pencil or your finger. If you start to feel tired, stop and come back to the task later.

Once the recording and listening process is fully completed, then and only then, do you think about main ideas or other technical aspects of the reading. No matter who uses this strategy to improve reading, if the child or adult is dyslexic, be patient, because this will be very difficult to do at first.

The more you practice, the faster you will get and the easier it will get. But, guaranteed, if this is done three times a week for several weeks, both fluency and comprehension will improve dramatically. Why — because the individual’s mind will be learning to process information in both visual and verbal sequences.

Other ways of using this approach:

If a child or teen has to study for a test, take part of what they need to learn and have them tape-record what it is they have to recall. Tell them not to worry about remembering anything. Just say the words and listen back. Then, once they have completed that process, casually ask them if they remember anything.

You will be absolutely amazed at how much they do recall. To those who try this and similar techniques on themselves or with their children, let me assure you that they work.

Eventually, the tape-recorder won’t be necessary.


3 thoughts on “Dyslexia 2 – Tape-recorder to improve reading

  1. Is this method similar to the Orton-Gillingham method which I’ve read mentions of several times? None of the websites really explain what is involved in O-G.


  2. Mac — Similar yet different. I am glad you know about that method.

    I developed what I called the “H.E.L.P Process” in my book (and in several published articles) as an eight or ten step process (Holistic Educational Literacy Process).

    The usual 8-step process involved: (1) reading into a tape-recorder, (2) listening back while following text, (3) signaling main ideas (using underlining, highlighting or post-it notes), (4) developing some type of organizer to sequence and relate ideas (continuing with post-its, or point-form, or flow chart), (5) dictating (just explaining what was in the organizer) a summary into the tape-recorder, (6) edit and (7) rewrite summary, (8) discuss what was learned from the reading — in other words comprehension — inferences, conclusions, etc.

    There can also be two earlier steps if an individual is not yet able to read a story or text into the tape-recorder. In a case like that, the parent, teacher or tutor reads into the tape-recorder while the student follows with their finger or pencil. Then, the child listens to what was recorded, continuing to following along with finger or pencil. Then, and only then, does the child do the recording themselves.

    Whatever steps, it really works! I used it with small children right up to university students.

    So, in that it is multi-sensory, it was based on the O-G Method and the work done by Marie Carbo (just google her name) who owns the U.S. National Reading Style Institute. In my original book, I gave credit to both but then went on to explain where the H.E.L.P. method was different.

    In theoretical terms, I incorporated several well researched and effective strategies in the process. In that way, I didn’t actually have to research the H.E.L.P. method per se because everything in each step was already a proven method.

    If you are interested, those proven methods were: * using multi-sensory techniques or aids such as a tape-recoder, * repeated readings (reading something 3 times, each time differently), * signaling (highlighting, underlining, etc), * developing an organizer (point form or a flow chart), * dictating a summary.

    In my post, I don’t go into the long explanation, I just say how to do it — and I incorporated all those cognitive strategies into one process. That is why it works — because students don’t realize how many skills and strategies they are using all at once.

    Sorry the explanation is so long. The bottom line is that shorter way I explained it in this post works too. I didn’t want to include this background because it would have made the post too long. Anyway, hope all this make sense?


  3. Thanks, Sandy. As per email, I found and purchased a Franklin Spelling Ace. I believe we have a small tape recorder at home. I guess it’s time to start working it!


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