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What is Wilson Reading?

  • The Wilson Reading System




        Wilson Reading System (WRS) is a research-based, multisensory structured language program for students who have reading difficulties.  Developed by Barbara A. Wilson in the early 1980's while working with adolescents and adults diagnosed with dyslexia in the Boston, Massachusetts area. The program is based on Orton Gillingham philosophy and principles and phonological coding research. She developed the system to teach older students the structure of words in a step by step sequential system (12 steps) which is cumulative and is therefore a manageable way to learn to read. One of the distinguishing features of the WRS is that it was developed for individuals beyond grade 3.  It is widely used with adolescents and adults. It is a complete curriculum for teaching decoding and encoding skills.


        In order to help students learn to differentiate speech sounds (phonemes) in a word, WRS uses a unique "sound tapping" system.  This system is also used for segmenting and blending sounds.  Throughout the program, the emphasis is on teaching students in a comprehensive manner.  Progress is tracked and measured via a criterion-based assessment, which is built into the program.


    Wilson Reading System addresses the areas of:


    • phonemic segmentation (speech sounds)
    • alphabetic principle - sounds/symbol relationships
    • decoding
    • encoding (spelling)
    • advanced word analysis
    • vocabulary development
    • sight word instruction 
    • fluency
    • comprehension with visualization and metacognition


    Who benefits from the WLS?

    • students with dyslexia
    • students unable to decode accurately
    • students with slow, labored reading who lack fluency
    • students who often guess at words
    • students who speak and understand English, but are unable to read or write it
    • students who are poor spellers
    • students who have been unsuccessful with other reading programs, but who still have gaps in their spelling and/or decoding

    Source: Instructor Manual - Wilson Reading System