Every child deserves to find joy in language.

Our Language and Literacy (Reading Specialist) program provides graduate preparation for educators who teach learners with language-based learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and other disorders that interfere with age-appropriate reading, writing and expressive language skills. This research-based program incorporates multi-sensory structured language methodologies for use in both specialized and general education settings.

Coursework, fieldwork, and clinical experiences emphasize visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile methods designed to reach all learning styles. Courses address the areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, oral language and writing. This program can also serve as a content degree for Professional Licensure in the following subjects: Early Childhood, Elementary, and Moderate Special Needs.

This 44-48 credit program includes mentored teaching internships, training in literature and writing instruction, the Wilson Language System, consultation techniques, and program management and evaluation. Courses are offered primarily in a weekend model and with some one-week sessions during the summer.

Program Requirements


Summer Semester

RDG 406 The Structure of Language for Teachers I
Designed to acquaint educators with the structure of the English language and with the methods of teaching reading and spelling through the use of multisensory and associative teaching techniques. Chumley, Rosow.

RDG 429 Language Development and Disorders
Explores the components of typical and atypical language and development across the linguistic domains — phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics. The behavioral manifestations associated with language disorders and their impact on academic functioning, particularly development of written language skills, are assessed. Bashir.

RDG 432 Reading Assessment
An in-depth course in administering and interpreting data obtained from formal and informal reading assessments. Learning to develop specific recommendations for appropriate reading and written language curricula to enhance the development for learners. Farrall.

RDG 469 Topics in Clinical Practice
Work with learners with special needs under the mentorship of a faculty advisor. Study and apply current classroom techniques in language-based instruction. Raskind, Bell.

Fall Semester

RDG 410 Multisensory Structured Language Skills
Focuses on identifying and developing appropriate multisensory structured language strategies in phonological/phonic awareness, reading comprehension, and textbook / study skills for students with language and reading challenges. Goodrich, Collins, Rigo.

RDG 461 Reading Research
Focus on past and current research in areas of reading and language arts. Provides a framework to evaluate reading theories and research and determines appropriate instruction based upon research findings. Clark–Chiarelli, Lowell.

RDG 433 The Structure of Language for Teachers II
Designed to further explore the structure of the English language through syntax and syntactical structure with a focus on language comprehension. Farrall, Rosow.

RDG 572 Internship Experience
Assigns supervised teaching responsibilities for learners who have language, reading, and writing challenges. Requires implementing the methods and materials of the Wilson Reading System throughout the course, and  offers certification in Wilson Level One. Must be taken for two semesters. Requires fieldwork. Koki.

Spring Semester

RDG 428 Teaching of Writing
Explore the effect of weakness in receptive and expressive language, organization, memory, and visual motor coordination on written production. Learn teaching techniques to address these challenges. Clark–Chiarelli, Kleinman.

RDG 457 Technology to Support Reading and Writing
Prepare teachers to meet the literacy, learning and assistive technology needs of students who struggle with reading and writing. Focuses on technology-based instructional strategies to help differentiate learning. Pugliese.

RDG 572 Internship Experience
Continuation of fall semester. Koki.

RDG RDG 573 Practicum in Reading
(Optional for those wishing to pursue Reading Specialist licensure)
Provides supervision and mentoring in the area of reading and serves as the practicum for the Reading Specialist License. Rigo.

Customize Your Program
Students may pursue a Master of Science in Education (MSEd) or an Educational Specialist (EdS) degree - an advanced degree that provides students who currently hold a master’s degree within an area of educational specialization. Educators also have the opportunity to earn Massachusetts licensure as a reading specialist (PreK-12) by completing an additional practicum.
    Paul Abraham
    • Paul Abraham
    • Professor, Director of Matesl
    • Phone: 617-521-2575
    • Office: W304D
    Janet Chumley
    • Janet Chumley
    • Associate Professor of Practice
    • Phone: 617-521-2239
    • Office: W303A
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    • Bruce Rosow
    • Adjunct, Education Williamstown
    • Phone: 617-521-2562
    • Office: W303
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IDA Recognition
The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) has recognized Simmons as one of sixteen university programs in the US that have met the standards outlined in IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of reading. The IDA Standards provide the most thorough, research-supported documentation of what all teacher ought to know and be able to demonstrate, whether they are teaching dyslexic students, other struggling readers, or the general student population.
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Language and Literacy

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