Our So. Cal. Tri-Counties Branch of the IDA

What Works?

Extensive research has been, and continues to be, conducted in this area regarding all literacy development. The Education Task Force of the International Dyslexia Association as determined a specific criteria necessary for teaching students with dyslexia. These criteria stress (1) content, what to teach, and (2) delivery, how to teach the content or the principles of instruction.

Efficient teaching should involve an integrated program of phonology, syllable instruction, morphology, syntax, and semantics. This teaching should be systematic, direct, sequential, cumulative, and multi sensory. When encoding (spelling) is taught systematically and simultaneously with decoding (reading), they reinforce each other. The student in a multi sensory structured language program learns that a spoken word is made up of individual sounds. The sounds are taught in a sequential, cumulative way. Students learn how sounds interact in words and word parts depending on their location and the influences of the surrounding letters.

When people with dyslexia use several sentences at the same time, clinical evidence demonstrates that they are better able to store the information in their brains. This requires a multi-sensory approach.

Direct instruction is also important. Teachers should directly explain and demonstrate all skills and concepts to students with continuous student-teacher interaction. Inferential learning of any concept cannot be taken for granted.

Systematic and cumulative instruction is known to work. Teachers present reading and writing skills sequentially and cumulatively. Whenever students learn a new concept, they must integrate it with concepts already mastered. Instruction must follow the logical order of language. The sequence begins with the easiest and most basic elements and progresses systematically to more difficult level. Each step must be based on previously learned steps. Teaching starts with the easiest language concepts and reviews and reinforces them until the students master them. Students must have ample and extended practice.

Diagnostic teaching helps teachers analyze and address student errors made within the scope and sequence of the concepts that they have directly taught. This requires the teacher’s base for teaching plan on careful and continuous assessment of each student’s needs. The assessment may be informal observational assessment.

Analytic and synthetic instruction involves teaching linguistic principles using both analysis and synthesis: analysis teaches whole to part; and synthesis teaches part to whole.


Reading , Writing, and Spelling: The Multi sensory Sensory Structured Language Approach. ©1997, 2nd edition 2001. The International Dyslexia Association, Baltimore Maryland.

IDA has a Framework for Informed Reading and Language Instruction – it is available on our website to members under the MEMBERS ONLY LINK