Magazine article Perspectives on Language and Literacy

Ready to Read: A Multisensory Approach to Language-Based Comprehension Instruction

Magazine article Perspectives on Language and Literacy

Ready to Read: A Multisensory Approach to Language-Based Comprehension Instruction

Article excerpt

Ready to Read: A Multisensory Approach to Language-Based Comprehension Instruction Mary Lupiani Farrell and Francie M. Matthews (2010) Paul H. Brookes Publishing. Paperback. 108 Pages. $24.95

One would not be out of line to wonder if it's even possible to get excited about another teacher resource on reading comprehension. After all, comprehending text for information or pleasure is the primary goal of reading, and the topic has been explored for decades. In this volume, though, the combined expertise of the authors, Mary Lupiani Farrell, Ph.D., and Francie M. Matthews, Ph.D., provides a link uniting research and practice in both written and language-based learning disorders. This slim, well-organized text is a much-needed resource for early career, veteran, and teacher educators alike.

The volume focuses on students with poor comprehension - individuals whose oral language problems interfere with their reading development. These students are often not readily noticed in the early elementary years because their comprehension is not primarily compromised by weaknesses in word recognition. Reading difficulties become apparent in about fourth grade, when comprehending more complex text becomes the emphasis of reading instruction.

The book begins with a concise and informative overview of the relationship between oral and written language and essential reading skills. Drs. Farrell and Matthews then succinctly describe three diagnostic labels associated with poor reading comprehension - dyslexia, specific language impairment, and language learning disability - and clarify the meaning and relationship of diagnostic labels used by different disciplines (e.g., speech-language-pathologists versus reading specialists).

To address individual students' needs, this volume uses case studies of three fifth-grade students who illustrate different learning profiles and school environments in which they are served. Although all three had difficulty learning to decode and spell, the students vary widely in their oral language ability and thus require different approaches in higher level reading instruction. Jim has strong oral language skills, but struggles to master the code of written English. His profile is typical among people with dyslexia - performance in listening comprehension is substantially better than reading comprehension. Like Jim, Billy also had difficulty learning to decode, but he also has subtle oral language difficulties that affect his reading comprehension. His profile fits the diagnostic label language learning disability. Cindy has persistent word decoding problems as well as multiple oral language problems, which together interfere with reading comprehension. Because instructional planning for higher level reading comprehension is heavily influenced by her moderate-to-severe oral language difficulty, the authors use the diagnostic label specific language impairment to illustrate her needs. …

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