THE LINKWORD METHOD: THE KEY TO LANGUAGE LEARNING FOR DYSLEXIA
The sad fact is that those with dyslexia are usually written off in schools and work as incapable of learning languages. That is about 10% of the population! I recently approached 2 schools dedicated to teaching dyslexic children who don’t even have language learning as an option for the students! The fact is that this assumption is totally wrong. The problem is how they are taught!
Below is an illustration of the Linkword method for learning vocabulary. Picture each of the images below in your mind’s eye as vividly as you can for about 10 seconds.
The Japanese for SHORTS is HAN ZUBON
Imagine my HANDS UPON your SHORTS
The German for BRIDE is BRAUT (pronounced as in SPROUT)
Imagine a Belgian BRIDE, a Brussels BRAUT
The Italian for NIGHT is NOTTE
Imagine spending a NAUGHTY NIGHT out
The Spanish for COW is VACA
Imagine a COW with a VACUUM cleaner, cleaning a field
The French for HEDGEHOG is HERISSON
Imagine your HAIRY SON looks like a HEDGEHOG
What is the English for: HERISSON, VACA, NOTTE, BRAUT, HAN ZUBON?
If you got most of them right, the Linkword method will help you learn the language of your choice. Linkword also teaches grammar in a really easy way.
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE IT WORKS IN GENERAL
Although the method has been around since at least the 19th century, the first studies proving it worked were done some 50 years ago. They showed that learning vocabulary with this method was about 3 times faster than normal learning. At least 100 studies since then have shown that the method is very significantly faster that a variety of alternatives including the normal rote learning. Using this method Tim Ferriss of the FOUR HOUR WEEK fame claimed you can learn 200-300 words in a day and 1200 word in a few weeks.
Studies we have conducted showed that a group of manages at Thomson holidays learned a vocabulary of 400 words AND a basic Grammar in 12 hours- about 3 times faster than normal as assessed by an independent assessor. In fact an assessment of normal learning of languages by school children in the UK found that on average they learned only about 800-900 words in 4 years!!
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE IT WORKS FOR DYSLEXICS AND POOR LEARNERS
We carried out a study at Rugby school in the UK. The class was of poor and dyslexic language learners. They spent one class a week using the Linkword course, which uses the keyword method for teaching vocabulary as well as teaching a basic grammar. After 7 months the students were given an end of term exam. The average mark for the class went up from 38% the year before to 50%. A quarter of the class were promoted to the class above, something that had never happened before! furthermore the pupils reported far higher feelings of enjoyment and speed of learning.
A second study which was carried out in another well known school, compared a group of pupils who were dyslexic with another group of students who were of average ability at language learning. Before the study started, all students were given a vocabulary test in French and it was found that dyslexic learners were significantly poorer in their vocabulary knowledge.
Both groups were then taught about 56 words using the linkword course in French described above. The findings were that both groups retained significantly more than previously, and that the dyslexia group now learned at the same level as the non dyslexic group. No study as far as I am aware has ever shown dyslexic learners learn to the same level as non dyslexic learners.
As can be seen below Adult learners can also benefit greatly
WHAT ADULT LEARNERS THINK
“I am dyslexic. A few years ago, I found ‘Linkword’, I started to learn Spanish and it is absolutely fabulous. My husband does it with me and we both love it. It has to be one of the easiest ways of learning a language in the world. I run the British Dyslexia Centre and have told many parents about this way of teaching languages”
Maria Chivers, British Dyslexia Centre.
I have just discovered Linkword and I am Dyslexic. After a few hours of using the system I found it was very helpful. The Visual layout and color use is most effective for me.”
Lee Slaughter from LATG website
“As a dyslexic person I was astonished at how quick, easy, effective and enjoyable the Linkword system is. The website says that, with Linkword, people can learn up to 3 times more quickly than with conventional methods. I would say that with my dyslexic condition I have actually learned even more quickly than that”
Andrew Glynn, Brixton
“I have had difficulty reading and spelling all my life as I suffer from dyslexia. I live in mid Portugal. I decided to give it a try. To my amazement it was working for me. I am totally hooked”
Peter G from the iOS Portuguese European customer rating
WHY DO DYSLEXIC LEARNERS BENEFIT FROM THE LINKWORD METHOD
One possible reason is that many dyslexic learners might have a specific problem in remembering the sound of a foreign word when associating an English word with a foreign word, e.g. The Spanish for COW is VACA. A study by Krug* looked at students who had specific language learning difficulties but not overall learning difficulties and found that these students had a specific problem in remembering the sound of foreign words. The Linkword method specifically addresses this problem by giving learners another English word to remember as a bridge to remembering the foreign word. Whatever the reason, it is clear that the Keyword method very much helps many dyslexic learners to a very significant extent, both in terms of performance and motivation.
SOME FAQ ABOUT THE LINKWORD METHOD
HOW MUCH CAN YOU REALLY LEARN
As noted above, Tim Ferriss argues that 1200 words can be learned in a few days and he is probably right. But when we started our studies we found that after learning about 200 words learners wanted to learn grammar mixed in with vocabulary so that they could start communicating straight away. Learning only grammar became a bit boring after a time. So we developed a course which introduced simple grammar soon after a set of about 10 words was learned and let learners translate simple sentences within minutes of starting the course. Our research showed this strategy worked. In the Thomson holidays study, learners learned about 400 words in 12hours but in addition could communicate in sentences. A later study found that 600 words and a more advanced grammar could be learned in about 24 hours.
HOW LONG DOES LEARNING LAST
We carried out a study on someone who learned Italian with Linkword 10 years previously and had not looked at it since. Without any revision he recalled about 30% of vocabulary. He then had 10 minutes to go through the glossary and then got about 70% correct. He was then given an hour to go through the course and got well over 90% correct.
WHY USING THE KEYWORD METHOD ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH
Studies have shown that using imagery without testing what you have learned immediately after learning leads to less good learning than rote learning. In our studies and and courses we always tested learning immediately after a set of words had been learned to avoid this problem. Also, as noted above, just learning vocabuary is not the optimal way to use the method.
IS MAKING UP YOUR OWN IMAGES BETTER THAN USING OTHERS
This is a complicated question. One study has shown that poor images lead to less retention than rote learning, but that good images result in better retention! For our Linkword courses we tested and tested, dropping out images that did not lead to very high levels of retention. Only when the evidence of a number of studies (see above) showed that our images were working for the vast majority of people, did we go public.
However the quality of images is not the main issue. Linkword courses use optimal testing patterns , critical to long term retention. The vocabulary is integrated with grammar and both are tested with sentences using just presented material. It is this combination of Memory enhances that makes Linkword courses much more than using the keyword method.
Another factor making Linkword courses unique is that the author of Linkword Dr Michael Gruneberg, has published a large number of studies in refereed journals showing the effectiveness of his Linkword courses. We know of no other language course where performance levels have been published to show that any claims we make are based on evidence. Not only have the studies shown how fast is learning with Linkword, but how much more enjoyable learning is as well and how much it boosts confidence.
For further information on Linkword courses, including free demos of 15 languages, go to
Languages courses are available for PC/Mac/MP3/ Android and iOS.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR OF LINKWORD, DR MICHAEL GRUNEBERG
Dr Gruneberg’s background is as a university academic psychologist with an interest in memory and memory improvement. He has published a large number of research papers and books on Memory and Memory improvement and two popular books on memory improvement with his colleague, Professor Doulas Herrmann of Indiana State University.
He is a former President of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, an international learned society. He has been involved in a number of broadcasts for the BBC, including writing the original script for the BBC QED programme, THE MAGIC of MEMORY and was the scientific consultant for the BBC series on Unforgettable Memory.
For a list of relevant publications on Linkword by Dr Gruneberg go to:
* Krug et al. (2002) A test of foreign language acquisition. Applied Cognitive Psychology .16, 211-221