By: Cheryl Lu, Social Media Coordinator
Most newcomers to Canada who study and work in their second languages have encountered this issue: They read slower. Their reading speed is slow not only compared to their peers who are native speakers of English or French but also in comparison to reading in their own first languages which they have been so accustomed to for years, if not decades. Among all the other difficulties that immigrants to Canada may encounter, this sudden change and disadvantage is sometimes the source of most of their frustration in their daily academic performances, professional scenarios and deciphering critical information published on governmental and other official websites.
However, a small change can provide an amazing resolution to this reading barrier. In today’s world, many new fonts, typefaces, apps and web browser extensions can aid with reading speed. Most of them were invented targeting readers with reading disabilities and ADHD, but they may also be an excellent resource for new language learners who are experiencing reading challenges in a second language and are genuinely in need of assistance. Here are some of them:
This is what OpenDyslexic looks like. It’s a free font invented to help people with dyslexia to read faster. The letters are designed to be sans-serif, have uneven widths throughout each stroke, and are heavy-weighted at the bottom to indicate direction. By stressing on the most distinguishable part of each letter, this font helps readers to focus better on the letters without struggling with telling each one apart.
Similar to the prior, Dyslexie is also a bottom-heavy font created to help people with dyslexia. While OpenDyslexic is bubble-like and rounded, Dyslexie offers an aesthetically more angular and rigid option. With heavy baselines, alternating stick and tail lengths, larger openings and semi-cursive slants, Dyslexieensures that each character has a unique and more easily recognizable form.
Read Regular is another font created to combat dyslexia. Comparing to the first two, it looks less cartoonish and more similar to the common sans-serif fonts like Arial or Calibri that we’re familiar with. However, it’s carefully designed to have a unique approach for each individual letter, without mirroring and confusing letters like “b” and “d.”
Lexie Readable takes an easier-to-read approach from the famous Comic Sans typeface. It has even strokes, rounded ends and asymmetrical b-s and d-s. What’s more, this typeface also includes Latin Extended-A characters and some punctuation marks.
Without targeting a certain group of people, Bionic Reading is designed for anyone who feels the need of better focus. It has an app as well as browser extension, and can be used universally on phones, tablets and desktop computers. The idea is simple yet effective: by bolding the initial letters of each word, it dramatically saves the time for human brain to process words and thus accelerates reading.
Focus Ex is a browser extension that aims at helping people with ADHD to focus and understand their reading content. With proportions and shape of the letters designed for the comfort of reading, it “makes the text more legible and helps with comprehension.”
Language learning is a years-long process that takes time, diligence, talent and determination. While hard-working is always the key to success, one can always borrow a little bit of boost from the latest technology. Whether you are a language learner or someone with dyslexia or ADHD, have you tried these fonts and tools? Did they help you to read faster? Which one do you like best? Share your story so more people can get help!