Addressing Reading Issues:
Multisensory Structured Language Basics
A reading disability (dyslexia) necessitates direct intervention by a trained professional in the form of a specific curriculum tailored to the child’s strengths and weaknesses. While there is no single program that meets the needs of all students, research shows that a Mulitsensory Structured Language (MSL) approach works well for many children with language-learning disabilities.
MSL programs vary according to the grade level of the student requiring the intervention and whether the teaching will take place in an individual or small group setting. Although most programs are delivered in a resource room, some well-trained teachers incorporate MSL principles into their mainstream language arts instruction.
The time to ensure that your child receives MSL instruction is when her Individual Education Program is being developed. Knowing what to ask for will go a long way toward getting the appropriate instruction.
Regardless of where instruction takes place, MSL programs provide the student with explicit training using a systematic and sequential approach to learning the structure of language. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are taught together, using all the senses to enhance students’ memory and learning. More specifically these programs teach:
- Phonemic awareness (breaking words into individual speech sounds and putting them back together)
- The sound system of the English language (sound symbol associations)
- Syllable instruction (six or seven syllable ‘types’ with unique vowel patterns)
- Meaningful word parts (root words, prefixes, suffixes)
- Grammar and syntax
- Word meaning