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The Crucial Components of Effective Multisensory Reading Instruction

One of the most powerful pieces of Reading Horizons instruction is connecting all of the language skills of listening and speaking and reading and writing in the process of dictation. Far too often in language instruction, the primary focus goes to the specific skills of reading and writing without the critical awareness that listening and speaking are precursory skills to reading and writing.

Oral language is preparation for written language. In the book, Teaching Students with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia, Virginia Berninger states: “Systematically teaching aural (through the ears) and oral (through the mouth) sentence structures enhances children’s ability to comprehend and compose written sentences (Haynes & Jennings, 2006). Oral and written language have reciprocal influences on each other. Oral receptive and expressive language aid reading comprehension, and in turn, reading enhances oral vocabulary growth and syntactic development (Johnson, 1991)” (Berninger & Wolf, 2009).

I often advise teachers of the importance of having students use oral language skills during dictation practice. Laying the groundwork for students to work on these skills involves ensuring that teachers model correct syntax and sentence form by always using the words they are dictating in a sentence. This helps students attach meaning and develop awareness of sentence structure. For the next step, here are a couple of key activities I suggest:

1) Once the students have written and proved the word dictated, have them turn to a partner and use the word in a sentence. 

2) Once the students have written and proved the word dictated, have them turn to a partner and explain their process of marking/proving the word. Encourage them to use process terminology such as, firstnextthen, and finally

During these activities, teachers should encourage students to speak clearly, maintaining eye contact with their partners. Teachers can use this time to encourage proper listening and speaking skills. 

These simple activities enrich and deepen the connection of all language skills during the key process of dictation. Giving students opportunities to develop receptive and expressive oral language skills will further aid in improving their reading and writing skills. 

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