In Loving Memory of Samuel Bomgard
Effective dyslexia remediation specifically designed for older struggling readers (age 7+).

What is the Orton-Gillingham method

We are sometimes asked: What is Orton-Gillingham (OG) remediation, and how does it work. This article seeks to answer these questions, as well as point out some of our perspectives and observations on it.

What is OG

The Orton-Gillingham method of remediation forms the current formal method of instruction as recommended by the International Dyslexia Association. It was developed by Samuel Orton (1879-1948) and Anna Gillingham (1878-1963).

Here is a short description of the essence of the OG method.

What is the Orton-Gillingham Approach?

Many different programs provide the components necessary for teaching dyslexic students, who need systematic and explicit instruction in sound/symbol correspondences in order to decode the printed word, along with instruction in reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. All the programs listed here can be grouped under the broad umbrella of an Orton-Gillingham approach which is:

  • Structured, Sequential and Cumulative - Elements of the language are introduced systematically. Students begin by reading and writing sounds in isolation. These are blended into syllables and words. The various elements of the language (consonants, digraphs, blends, and diphthongs) are introduced in an orderly fashion. As students learn new material, they continue to review old material to the level of automaticity. The teacher addresses vocabulary, sentence structure, composition, and reading comprehension in similar structured, sequential and cumulative manner.
  • Language-based - A technique for studying and teaching language, understanding the nature of human language, the mechanisms involved in learning, and the language-learning processes in individuals.
  • Multisensory - Sessions are action-oriented with auditory, visual, and kinesthetic elements reinforcing each other for optimal learning. Spelling is taught simultaneously with reading and in this respect differs from traditional phonics instruction.
  • Cognitive - Students learn about the history of the language and study the many generalizations and rules which govern its structure.
  • Flexible - At its best, Orton-Gillingham teaching is diagnostic-prescriptive in nature. The teacher constantly seeks to understand how an individual learns and to devise appropriate teaching strategies.

(Orton Gillingham Academy, Amenia, New York,1996)

How do you learn and master OG?

The OG method of instruction is relatively complex to learn and master. The method is regulated and requires formal certification before one can adopt the title Certified Orton Gillingham Practitioner. See the Academic for Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators at

This obviously does not mean that its concepts and principles cannot be learned and applied by those non-certified, however it does indicate that it is not a five minute read and let's do it.

Why is proper Phonics instruction so important?

We fluent readers read using our Lexical Route system. That system gets filled by our Grapheme/Phoneme Route system. The better the Grapheme/Phoneme Route works, the more efficient the Lexical Route will be filled with words collectively comprising our fluent reading vocabulary. For more on this, please read this article:

Some aspects of the method

The method works through the language building blocks in a logic sequence. Starting with the alphabet and progressing via the most common and easiest graphemes/phonemes to the more complex ones. Blending of graphemes/phonemes as words get longer.

It may use cards, which can be kept on different stacks, representing to what extend a child has already mastered the skills. A stack for new material not yet covered, a stack for materials recently introduced and requiring lots of practise, etc. all the way to a stack with mastered material.

Cards may contain words or phrases on one side, and the instructional language blocks/components on the other, making it possible to flip and practise and vice versa.

Involving multiple sensory faculties forms part and parcel of the method as well. Vision, hearing, and speech are obviously involved. Adding writing or working with the shapes of letters and the spelling of words or phrases adds this modality.

Some thoughts in the context of older struggling readers

Dynaread strongly endorses the OG-method. However, though proven very effective, the OG approach does present some real-life challenges when navigating in the waters of remedation of older struggling readers.

Four out of five subtypes of Dyslexia share a phonological decoding deficit core. This means that most older struggling readers have demonstrated difficulty in mastering phonetic decoding skills. This difficulty has likely resulted in erosion of their willingness to try yet again: even if it is instructed more efficiently and more effectively this time.

Lack of progress in learning to master phonological decoding skills effectively traps a child in functional illiteracy. We read in order to comprehend. Comprehension is only possible when reading is performed sufficiently fluently and sufficiently accurately. When a child is only able to master some phonics skills, their reading vocabulary will not grow enough to provide proper coverage - so to speak - of all words in any given passage: trapping them in reduced comprehension i.e. low literacy. This, in turn, erodes motivation further.

Not every school or parent enjoys access to, or funds for, OG certified remediation to reach all their in-need children.

More information?

For more general information, please Google or Amazon Orton-Gillingham.

For professional information and development, please contact the Academic for Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators at

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DYNAREAD: Grounded in Reality

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Dynaread has been developed in the trenches of actual remediation, with our feet firmly planted on the ground. Scientific research is essential (and we consistently use it), but we also understand the realities at home and in school. Not all homes have two parents, not all Dad's or Mom's are always home, there is oftentimes no money, schools lack staff or funding. We listen, we observe, we discuss, and we build the best solutions we can for older (ages 7+) struggling readers.

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quote-sign Our Dynaread team members are required to hold themselves accountable for serving our clients in adherence with our core values...

Contribute with scientific and overall integrity.
Retain the focus on the needs of each individual child.