What is Orton–Gillingham?

By Peg Rosen

Expert reviewed by Bob Cunningham, EdM

At a glance

  • Orton–Gillingham is a teaching approach designed to help struggling readers.

  • Orton–Gillingham teaches the connections between sounds and letters.

  • It pioneered the multisensory approach to teaching reading.

Orton–Gillingham is a teaching approach that was designed to help struggling readers. It explicitly teaches the connections between letters and sounds. Many reading programs include Orton–Gillingham ideas.

Orton–Gillingham is a structured literacy approach. It introduced the idea of breaking reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then building on these skills over time.

It also pioneered the multisensory approach to teaching reading, which is a common part of effective literacy programs. This means that instructors use sight, hearing, touch, and movement to help students connect language with letters and words. Orton–Gillingham is widely used to teach students with .

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