Metalinguistics : Why It's So Empowering
How does a reading teacher best reach the mind of a child so they become a proficient reader? Are there best practices regarding this endeavor? The bullet points that follow are mile markers on a journey toward understanding how this process is best facilitated and what is important for you to know before you embark on this journey.
- Dr. Samuel T. Orton was a practicing neuro-pathologist in the last century. He was a meticulous researcher who wanted to understand why learning language skills was such a struggle for some students while being seemingly easy for others. Because of the efficacy of his findings, there have been many spinoffs based on his research designed to teach children how to read in a fool proof way.
- His book, Reading, Writing, and Speech Problems in Children contains a compilation of his findings from a medical point of view. In fact, his renown is celebrated by the International Dyslexia Association founded in his memory.
- In simplest form, children are either strongly bent toward a learning style that is visual or that is analytical. Visual students have a strong rote memory. Analytical students need more information to process English than simply remembering how things look.
- All students benefit significantly when a reading process uses all four modalities to teach the component parts of reading: Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic and Vocal.
- Attentional Capacity or the mind’s ability to pay attention to the details of our language is an imperative for developing strong reading skills. Attentional Capacity is necessary for mastering decoding. Dr. Orton’s multisensory process builds Attentional Capacity which is essentially a strength-based training program for the mind.
- In order for Attentional Capacity to be in play, teachers must carefully embed one foundation stone at a time. The complexity of the reading process includes the following Subroutines all designed to build Attentional Capacity: Feature recognition processes, Letter recognition processes, Spatial placement processes, Orthographic unit processes, Lexical processes, Syntactic processes, and Semantic processes. These subroutines must be honored and strategically taught if proficient literacy is to happen.
- Simultaneously introducing Precise Manuscript Handwriting and then dovetailing that instruction with Precise Sound/Symbol relationships is the beginning foundation stone to language proficiency.
- When students know 54 phonograms, they learn a process called Orthographic Analysis: a system of analysis that builds a lexicon (a beginning word bank), reinforces phonics, cultivates continued attention to detail with markings and handwriting, and explains to students why words are spelled like they are. Students learn how to spell by application and not by rote.
What's the end result ?
As students advance in this , they learn how to use and place the following tools in their tool box over the course of 4-8 years of instruction:
- Precise manuscript and cursive handwriting
- 91 one-letter, two-letter, three-letter, and four-letter Phonograms and the sounds of each
- 40 plus Spelling Rules and their precise application
- A 3000 word plus Core Vocabulary list of most frequently used words in English
- The Reading Works Primers A, B, and C to cultivate fluency in oral reading with emerging readers
- Basic Sentence Writing and basic Grammar including punctuation, capitalization, and English usage
- A Spelling Notebook and a separate Grammar and Composition Notebook to record what they know, and for advanced students a Writing Portfolio with an Advanced Grammar and Composition Notebook.