MSL and Orton-Gillingham

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What is MSL and Orton-Gillingham?

MSL stands for Multisensory Structured Language and adheres to what is called the ‘synthetic’ approach to teaching foundational reading and writing skills. Learning to read and write through the synthetic approach involves the synthesising, or segmenting and blending, of phonemes and graphemes to make a word. The English language is tackled in small parts so that over time, students become fluent in segmenting and blending sounds and letters to make a whole word automatically, rather than simply guessing at words by sight or through pictures.

In this way, MSL follows the planned, explicit teaching of reading, spelling, writing and comprehending as originally developed in the 1920s by Dr Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham. According to the Australian Dyslexia Association, Orton Gillingham has remained, “the gold standard for the treatment and remediation of dyslexia.” The approach involves the use of auditory, visual and kinaesthetic (VAK) learning to help strengthen memory. A multisensory approach involves the explicit and direct teaching of:

  • Oral language
  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonics
  • Vocabulary
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension

Through decoding (blending sounds and letters in order to read) and encoding (segmenting sounds in order to spell), students are able to learn the foundational rules of their language over a period of time. MSL recognises the need for people with SLDs and those with lower literacy capabilities to learn reading and writing through the support of cumulative, explicit instruction at their own pace. We adhere to the saying, “We learn as fast as we can, but as slow as we must.”

At Melem, we do not diagnose SLDs like dyslexia (which is usually done by a psychologist or certified doctor), but we do provide interventions and support for dyslexics to learn through evidence-based practice. If you would like to know more about diagnosing dyslexia, we suggest you visit the SPELD NSW website.