The Orton-Gillingham Approach

Orton-Gillingham is a highly structured approach that breaks reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds and then builds on these skills over time.

What Is the
Orton-Gillingham Approach?

The Orton-Gillingham approach empowers educators to develop an individualized, structured, multisensory plan to teach reading and vocabulary skills. Orton-Gillingham is a step-by-step learning process involving letters and sounds that encourages students to advance upon each smaller manageable skill learned throughout the process. It was the first approach to use explicit, direct, sequential, systematic, multi-sensory instruction to teach reading, which is effective for all students and essential for teaching students with dyslexia.

The Orton-Gillingham approach is made up of components that ensure that students are not only able to use learned strategies, but can also explain the how and why of phonological strategies. This instructional approach encourages students by seeing, saying, sounding, and writing letters to master decoding and encoding of words. The Orton-Gillingham approach emphasizes multisensory learning, which combines sight, hearing, touch, and movement. This approach works well for students with dyslexia who lack a basic level of phonemic awareness.

Critical Components of the
Orton-Gillingham Approach


The teaching of new concepts incorporates visual, auditory, and kinesthetic pathways. With this approach, students learn language by ear (listening), mouth (speaking), eyes (seeing), and hand (writing).

Structured, Sequential, and Cumulative

Through direct, explicit instruction, it progresses logically at the primary level and progresses to more advanced concepts that build upon the previous skill learned, with practice and review.


Through assessment, differentiation, and grouping, teachers can instruct students based on their needs.


Directly teaches the fundamental structure of language, starting with sound/symbol relationships and progressing to more complex concepts such as higher-level spelling rules and Greek and Latin Bases.

The Five Pillars of Literacy

Phonological Awareness | The awareness that words are composed of sounds and those sounds have distinct articulatory features
Phonics | The ability to recognize letter-sound relationships in words
Fluency | The ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression
Vocabulary | Size and word-meaning strategies predict comprehension
Comprehension | Understanding the meaning of text and integrating it with previous knowledge

See Orton-Gillingham as a Part of Structured Literacy Training in Action

Structured Literacy can ensure that students are equally exposed to important foundational literacy skills in a sequential, systematic, and cumulative way.