What is MSL and Orton-Gillingham?

What is MSL and Orton-Gillingham?

MSL stands for Multisensory Structured Language and adheres to what is called the ‘synthetic’ approach to teaching phonics. Learning to read through the synthetic approach involves the synthesising, or blending, of phonemes to make a word. Words are tackled in small parts so that over time, students become fluent in connecting and blending sounds and letters to make a whole word, rather than guessing it by sight.

In this way, MSL follows the planned, explicit teaching of reading, writing and comprehending as originally developed in the 1920s by Dr Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham. According to the Australian Dyslexia Association, Orton Gillingham/MSL 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 (reading by pulling words apart) and encoding (spelling by putting words back together), students are able to learn the foundational rules of their language over a period of time. MSL recognises the need for dyslexics and those with lower literacy capabilities to learn reading and writing through the support of cumulative, explicit instruction at their own pace.

At MELEM, we do not diagnose dyslexia (as this is usually done by a psychologist), 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.