spell, read, succeed
About MSL Clinic
I'm Manuela Southey, a VIT registered Primary School Teacher who has completed additional specialist training in the area of literacy difficulties. I've always had a passion for helping children, especially ones who need a little extra assistance to build the confidence they need at school.
I started off my teaching journey as a very young child. The first person I ever taught to read was my little cousin. I was staying with family while my parents were on an overseas trip and my cousin, who was about 6 years old, kept bringing me books to read with him. Together we read everything from story books to encyclopaedias and as I taught him little bits, he would became hungry to learn more. This is one of my fondest childhood memories. I was probably about 10 years old at the time and I had the best time bonding with my cousin through the shared experience of reading.
As an adult, after having done a performing arts degree and a short course in broadcast journalism, I decided to complete my teacher training through Monash University. After years of working with a variety of primary school aged children in the classroom and then having children of my own, I decided to learn more about literacy and how to mitigate difficulties for those students who were struggling with reading and writing. I completed my training through the Institute of Multi Sensory Language Education, which is the recognised training institute for the Australian Dyslexia Association. This was great training, which enabled me to work with students with specific learning difficulties and those with a diagnosis of dyslexia or dysgraphia. However, as I have a thirst for learning, I wished to learn more and completed a Graduate Certificate in Educational Neuroscience through Melbourne University. In this course, I focused on understanding the neural correlates of literacy acquisition and how to use this knowledge to inform best practise teaching. All this study has allowed me to truly understand and apply best practise teaching in the area of literacy.
What is my approach?
I use an explicit instruction approach which takes into consideration a student's current understanding of language and builds on this understanding in order to set them up for successful learning experiences. Lessons are cumulative and frequently revised. Explicit phonics instruction is paired with reading of decodable texts and writing practise. Tricky words are introduced with spelling hooks wherever possible. Cognitive load is kept within the student's threshold, which helps build confidence.
The multi sensory component of the lesson is simply attending to the sounds, symbols and motor skills required to complete literacy tasks. Skills are practised, aiming for a level of automaticity as soon as possible. New skills are introduced as quickly as they can be and as slowly as they must be.
Increasing confidence in literacy skills tends to have a wonderful flow on effect to most of the student's learning. Suddenly those written maths questions don't seem as difficult to decipher and science words are not as scary as they used to be.
Teaching morphology in these lessons, helps my students to understand more of the English language, thus making it seem less overwhelming. It also sparks the curiosity of learning more about our very interesting and somewhat complex language and helps to extend their vocabulary as they experiment with using prefixes and suffixes to change the meanings of base words.
Teaching sessions are highly structured and predictable which ensures a high level of engagement and success. Students usually enjoy these sessions as they gain a deeper understanding of how language works.
Multisensory Structured Language is an effective approach for students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia or similar difficulties. It is commonly recommended for students who have difficulty acquiring literacy skills. Frequent lessons and revision have a greater impact on student achievement, as spaced practise has been shown have a beneficial effect on retention.
I strive to have a positive, friendly energy in all my classes, thus keeping students engaged and invested in their learning. My students' understanding is continuously assessed and teaching is adjusted accordingly.
I look forward to continuing my learning journey. To teach and learn is a great gift and every student is also a teacher.
For more information about dyslexia, see the Australian Dyslexia Association website: