Explicit Literacy Instruction for Students with Dyslexia
Students with dyslexia may experience the process of reading acquisition differently, but that doesn’t prevent them from succeeding, and their route to success doesn’t need to include difficulty or suffering. Their learning path simply requires a specific, systematic, targeted approach from instructors: explicit phonics instruction.
What Is Explicit Instruction?
When we talk about “explicit instruction” we’re describing a scenario in which the teacher leads step-by-step instruction with clear demonstrations, targeted practice, and structured support. This type of purposeful pedagogical methodology is ideal for all kinds of striving readers, including students with dyslexia, because it delivers exactly what they need at each step as they build foundational literacy skills. Everything from resources and tools to types of instruction and learning experiences is calibrated specifically to meeting their needs and supporting their abilities. Explicit instruction involves the creation of structured, comprehensive programs for children with dyslexia. As a result, students experience growth in phonemic awareness and text comprehension, becoming capable readers.
What Is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia, a neurological condition unrelated to intelligence, requires students with dyslexia to learn coping strategies. With the right instruction, all students with dyslexia can learn to read and can go on to do great things. However, dyslexia can make the process of acquiring literacy more challenging for them. The more people learn about dyslexia, the better educators can support students with dyslexia.
In 2002, the International Dyslexia Association adopted this definition: “Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
“Early assessment and intervention result in the best outcome,” according to the Mayo Clinic, who define dyslexia as “a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Also called a reading disability, dyslexia is a result of individual differences in areas of the brain that process language. Dyslexia is not due to problems with intelligence, hearing or vision. Most children with dyslexia can succeed in school with tutoring or a specialized education program. Emotional support also plays an important role.”
Dyslexia Awareness Month
October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, a time to build support for students with dyslexia, raise awareness and understanding, and create and foster community. Visit the International Dyslexia Association online to learn more and find useful information and helpful resources for families and educators.
Read more: 6 Tips for Dyslexia Awareness Month
Why Choose Structured Literacy Instruction?
Countless literacy experts and pedagogical leaders recommend direct, systematic, explicit instruction in phonics and phonological awareness for striving readers and students with dyslexia, who need more guided practice. By identifying struggles and addressing confusion as early as possible, educators can deliver step-by-step instruction and targeted practice with feedback and structured support. Giving striving students confidence to continue learning and ask for help is also essential. Explicit phonological instruction in the early years can eliminate future reading problems for many students.
Tip: English literacy relies upon sound/symbol correspondence (connecting 26 letters with 44 basic sounds). The process of decoding—identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words—is complex. For students with dyslexia, direct and explicit instruction is the most effective way to help them navigate the decoding process, systematically learning and practicing each phonemic concept.
Explore Systematic Literacy Instruction
By explicitly teaching literacy skills, instructors enable students to become fluent readers who can accomplish full automaticity. Direct instruction gives students with dyslexia the support and tools they need to master crucial reading skills. For students with dyslexia, motivation, engagement, and healthy self-esteem are essential to growth.
Want to learn more about explicit instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, and language development? Explore the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading intervention. Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham were pioneers in the study of dyslexia, whose groundbreaking Orton-Gillingham approach has become the go-to reading intervention for students with dyslexia. Their instructional materials, The Gillingham Manual, have been published by EPS since 1956. The Orton-Gillingham approach is language-based, multisensory, structured, sequential, cumulative, cognitive, and flexible.