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Becoming a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT)

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Are you preparing for the Academic Language Therapy Association exam? Let us guide you through it.

Considering becoming a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT)? Passing the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA) exam would be a terrific addition to your CV if you’re looking to become ALTA certified, but preparing for it can be stressful. Generally, a CALT training program is open to those with a master’s degree and is generally a two-year program. If you want to give it your best while preparing to become a certified therapist, we have some tips that might prove helpful and help you meet any criterion during the test!

What is the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA) Exam and What’s its Purpose?

The Academic Language Therapy Association exam assesses the skills of individuals working with students suffering from written language-based learning disabilities. You can join ALTA, based in Texas. According to ALTA’s site, “For over 30 years, the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA) has been a pioneer in establishing the rigorous standards that assure the highest quality services to those individuals with dyslexia.”

The exam itself is quite extensive, as it covers a wide range of relevant topics. Those include everything from basic language skills to language development, formal and informal assessment, and reading intervention strategies you can apply during teaching hours when helping those with learning disabilities.

Passing the test is important for any aspiring therapist working with those who are dyslexic, speech-language pathologists, and certified academic language therapists. Passing demonstrates that you have acquired and mastered all the necessary skills required to provide effective language therapy in special education environments.

ALTA Exam Questions, Length, Study Guides, and Passing Scores

The ALTA competency exam for MSLE, or, Multisensory Structured Language Education, consists of a series of questions covering topics such as language assessment and intervention strategies for those with dyslexia and related learning differences.

The candidate testing has to prove they are knowledgeable in the areas of structural linguistics, speech-related disorders, the laws regarding professional conduct and advocacy for students, as well as the ethics of oral and written correspondence with colleagues, students, and other professionals in the training program and beyond.

To prepare for the exam, candidates can access study guides provided by the Academic Language Therapy Association in the form of a handbook. All coursework information can also be acquired by contacting the organization ([email protected]). The MSLE is accredited by the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council, or IMSLEC.

CALP Certification

Different from CALT, Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) refers to the language skills required for academic achievement and cognitive tasks. It goes beyond basic conversational language and involves the ability to understand and use complex vocabulary, grammar, and language structures needed to succeed in educational settings. CALP is crucial for students to excel in subjects like science, mathematics, social studies, and language arts.

The CALP test consists of 50 questions and lasts approximately two hours, with the passing score being 80%. CALT tests, on the other hand, comprise 75 questions and have a passing score of 72%.

Is it Worth it to Become a CALT?

While it takes additional time - on top of having achieved advanced higher education - having a Certified Academic Language Practitioner certificate is a highly valuable asset for anyone looking to work with students suffering from dyslexia and related language disorders.

ALTA CALT certificates are recognized in many states and demonstrate a candidate’s knowledge of the structure of the English language, and skills necessary to work in special education as a qualified instructor in structured literacy, reading comprehension, etc. CALT is different from a Licensed Dyslexia Therapist, a certification generally awarded by the state in which the practitioner lives.

The certificate opens plenty of new job opportunities. In addition, showing yourself to be a dedicated, systematic, and educated candidate can increase your earning potential, too, as it will be obvious to future employees that you’re ready to work on your professional development and stay up-to-date on the latest research in the field of written and oral language and reading.

ALTA certification also allows for more flexible work. If you prefer working in more than one institution, as a CALT, you’ll be able to work in schools, hospitals, private clinics, as well as in your private practice.

Having the freedom to dedicate yourself to multiple projects and work in different environments will give you a sense of accomplishment, too. After all, providing training courses at different therapy levels will prove impactful, as you’ll be seeing tangible results of your work daily.

Additional Resources to Study for the Academic Language Therapy Association Exam

In addition to following the study guides provided by the Academic Language Therapy Association itself, you can rely on a bunch of other strategies to better prepare for the upcoming exam. We have three useful tips below.

Listen to Study Questions Throughout the Day with Text-to-Speech (TTS)

Repetition is key when studying for an exam, and there is no better way to get additional input when preparing for a test conducted orally than to hear your study materials read aloud as many times as possible. That is easily achievable with text-to-speech (TTS) programs such as Speechify.

Speechify is a highly flexible TTS tool that you can read to go through your study guides, tests, and courses by hearing them read out loud. Since the program is super customizable, you can adjust the reading speed to your preference and cover more ground than you would be by reading everything.

Listening to all the questions multiple times will help you get accustomed to the test format and teach you to anticipate questions. In addition, it will help you internalize a lot of the vocab you’ll need to use during the examination.

You can, of course, use Speechify as a supplementary teaching aid, too. Since it comes with customizable user settings, it is a perfect tool to encourage independent reading. Students of all ages can use it to practice sight word reading thanks to its highlighting options, as well as to learn about language encoding, the alphabetic principle, and other aspects of the English language.

Join Groups

Perhaps it is needless to say, but you are not the only candidate taking the exam. There are plenty of people looking to get into the same area of work, and some of them are already highly knowledgeable and might even have a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree in related fields.

The good news is that many of them are willing to work together and share and review materials while preparing. You can look for potential study partners via social media and places like LinkedIn to form small groups of dedicated learners. You can even reach out to members of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) too.

Read Books and Try Various Courses

There is no better way to prepare for a test than to study as if your life depended on it. Luckily, there are a lot of books and courses you can look into to brush up on your knowledge.

Some books are written specifically for the ALTA exam, and some instructors offer individual tutoring for future teachers in linguistic areas of phonemics, semantics, morphology, and syntax, as well as phonological awareness, phonics, phoneme decoding, and teaching methods such as Orton-Gillingham.

Having experience as a student will give you new insight into how to conduct and organize your practicum should you eventually become a qualified instructor.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.