Implementing the Reading and Language Intervention for Children with Down Syndrome (RLI)

The Reading and Language Intervention for Children with Down Syndrome (RLI) is an evidence-based programme designed to teach reading and language skills to children with Down syndrome.

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Evaluated in 50 schools in a randomised controlled trial, the intervention is designed to be delivered by teaching assistants in daily one-to-one sessions, supported by the class teacher and school SEN specialists. This course is designed to supplement the RLI handbook to help schools get started implementing the intervention.

This course is designed for educators (teachers in mainstream and special education, advisory teachers and SENCOs, teaching assistants and paraprofessionals, speech and language therapists/pathologists) involved in delivering the Reading and Language Intervention for Children with Down Syndrome (RLI) . Parents with an interest in the intervention and how they can support their child's reading and language learning in partnership with their school may also benefit from the course.

The course includes 6 modules, each of which includes a video presentation, handouts and an assessment. The video presentations can be viewed, handouts downloaded and assessments completed at any time. In addition, course participants can contact DSE tutors to ask questions and seek additional advice. Course participants should plan to spend a minimum of 12 hours studying to complete the course and assessments.

The course is accessible to participants in any country. A computer with a modern web browser and a reliable Internet connection sufficient for streaming videos is required.

RLI handbook

This course is designed to supplement the RLI handbook, which is also accompanied by online resources, including video clips illustrating the activities, assessment and record keeping forms, and example teaching materials. It is assumed that course participants will have access to the handbook to work with.


The following modules are included in this course:

  • What is RLI? Design, evaluation and children's progress - overview of the course and the intervention, its strands and components - how RLI was designed building on previous research and adapted for children with Down syndrome - a summary of the evaluation study, factors influencing individual rates of progress and views of educators on the benefits of the intervention for them as well as the children
  • Getting started - resources and reading strand assessments - sets out the resource requirements for schools planning to implement RLI - preparatory work needed for the reading strand, including how to grade books, the criteria for rating books as easy and instructional for individual children and how to take a simple running record - how to carry out the initial assessments to ensure each child starts reading strand activities at the right level and how to develop and use a reading lesson plan for the child
  • Teaching the reading strand - book reading - discusses the component skills important for learning to read - focuses on book reading which occurs in three components of the reading strand and sets out the practical strategies for teaching each of these - easy book reading, taking a running record as the child reads the instructional book and introducing a new instructional book - also describes book reading activities designed to develop reading fluency and reading comprehension
  • Teaching the reading strand - sight words and phonics - Balanced reading instruction includes teaching sight words and phonics in the context of book reading. This module sets out practical strategies to teach sight words and guidance on how to choose words to teach. It also sets out activities to teach children letter-sound links, to listen and identify sounds in words (phonological awareness) and to see how letters and sounds work in printed words on the page (phonics) to enable children to blend and segment words for reading and spelling.
  • Teaching the language strand - an overview of language learning, how language develops for children with Down syndrome, the challenges involved in learning the meanings of new words and the aims of the language strand - guidance on how to assess each child's language to ensure the words and sentences taught are at the right level - how to select and teach the meanings of new words - the first component of the language strand - guidance on reinforcing the meaning of the new word, using the new word in connected speech, using the new word in written language and making a topic book to record the child's learning
  • Consolidation sessions, general teaching tips and linking with home - guidance on how to plan consolidation sessions, monitor children's progress and involve families in the intervention - including general teaching tips based on what was learned during the two years that the research team worked directly with children and schools and further guidance on effective implementation provided in feedback from schools and districts in the UK and USA who have implemented RLI


This course features:

  • Video presentations - lasting between one and two hours, available to course participants for streaming on-demand
  • Handouts - download copies of the slides in the presentation to work through
  • Assessments - check your learning with online assessments
  • 'In practice' checklists - guidance and checklists to assist course participants to identify how to apply what they have learned for each child that they work with
  • Further reading, references and resources - references to research discussed in each module, together with further reading and recommended resources are provided for those wishing to develop their knowledge further
  • Certificates of achievement - certificates for participants who successfully complete each module and assessment in this course

Course duration

We recommend setting aside around two hours per week for 6 weeks to study this course.

Participants must successfully complete each module and all assessments to receive a certificate of achievement.

How to book

You can purchase access to our online courses via our subscriptions website .

Help with online courses and subscriptions

Please visit our support site for additional help with online courses and subscriptions.