Selecting reading texts for learners with SpLD (Specific Learning Difficulties)

Let’s go back to the classic list every teacher should bare in mind. How to select reading comprehension texts for learners with SpLD? 

It’s common knowledge that nowadays the trend is to use alternative ways when teaching learners with SpLD, including iPads, notebooks or e-readers. Videos and pictures help dyslexic students, for example, to focus more and understand better. However, even though the wonders of technology have allowed them to learn in a smoothier way, it is important to consider reading comprehension as a key skill to develop in those children. We teachers are in charge of shaping them to become independant learners. And reading won’t disappear, not ever.

So, let’s take this list into account when choosing our next reading comprehension!

Contents of the text

  • Should be motivating to read
  • Should awaken learners’ curiosity in the information
  • Should create the need for reading
  • Should take the social and cultural context into consideration


  • Should be appropriate for learners’ level
  • Should be increased gradually (short paragraphs first)
  • Long texts should be broken into smaller sections
  • Long texts should be dealt with in several stages of the lesson or over a number of lessons

Language quality – vocabulary

  • The level of difficulty of the reading text should be in line with the learners’ level of proficiency
  • The text should not contain a high number of unfamiliar words
  • Guessing the meaning from context can be challenging for learners with SpLD
  • Provide glossaries of words

Language quality – grammar

  • The number of unfamiliar grammatical structures should be limited
  • Complex syntactic or morphological constructions should be reformulated

Text Layout

  • Should be organised into short paragraphs
  • The font and size of the letters should be appropriate (*)
  • Should be accompanied with illustrative pictures or visual images
  • Audio recording is also useful for learners with SpLD

List of fonts which work better with dyslexic students

All the “Sans serif” fonts are useful when designing or adapting texts for dyslexic students. A Sans serif font looks like this:

Image source

Some examples of sans serif fonts are:

  • Arial
  • Verdana
  • Century Gothic
  • Trebuchet
  • Calibri.

Another good option is to download a font designed just for learners with dyslexia. It is called Open Dyslexic and it looks like this:

Image source

To download it, just click here!

Based on:  
Kormos, J., & Smith, A. M. (2012). Teaching languages to learners with specific learning difficulties. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.






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