Orton Gillingham for All

R is Very Controlling

We’ve covered Closed, (Magic )E, and Open syllables in the REVLOC system of classifying syllables to give them rules to help pronounce words. From here, things get slightly trickier.

The R-controlled syllable is the R in REVLOC. In a past post, I acknowledged the reason for the order of the letters in REVLOC is that this is the order in which each syllable “trumps” the next. R-controlled trumps all. If a word has a syllable that is R-controlled, but closed, you pronounce it r-controlled.

For example – fir

Technically, fir is closed, right? It’s a vowel closed in by two consonants. But, that ir means it is r-controlled.  Ir is pronounced “әr.”

R-controlled vowels and examples include:

Or – or, for, morn, storm, hornet, morsel, border

Ar – art, card, lard, bombard, farmer, tarnish

Or and Ar have a kind of long sound to them, meaning you hear the vowel difference. The word Or is easily distinguishable from the word Art.

These next three (er, ir, ur) are not distinguishable by just hearing the words. The most commonly used spelling is “er” for the “әr” sound.

Er – her, jerk, terse, upper, summer, bitter, finger, tender, master, monster, berry, merry

Ir – fir, birch, Sir, girl, stir, birch, whirl, birth, thirty, bird, squirm

Ur – fur, curl, burn, hurl, hurry, furry, flurry, disturb, Saturn, furnish

A phrase to help remember the sounds of er, ir, ur is: Her bird is hurt.

Now for the tricky part. These r-controlled syllables can also sound different from word to word.

Or can have a schwa sound in words like: doctor, visitor, mayor, error, worst, worth. We don’t say doc-tor, we say, “doctәr.” And the pronunciation reflects it. This is in contrast with the word, Fork, where we clearly hear the or.

Ar also has a long sound, a schwa sound and can sound like the “or” pronunciation.

Ar as long: arrow, carrot, barren, parallel, marry, charity

Ar as schwa: dollar, lizard, standard, collar, popular

Ar as “or” sound: war, warn, swarm, wart, warm, reward, warden

Er can sound like “ār” : errand, error, very, peril, inherit, merit, prosperity

Ir can also have a different sound, like the word “ear,” notice these are irr in most: spirit, irrigate, irregular, irritate, mirror

Lastly, we look at “ear” (not as a word, but as an r-controlled portion of a word). It also has two ways of pronunciation.

Ear as a schwa: early, earn learn, heard, pearl, earth

Ear as “ār” sound: wear, bear, tear, pear, swear

The r-controlled, or Bossy-R, syllables may seem confusing, but the point in making the distinction is to pull out the syllable and make it more manageable. If you get a word like: murder

Murder

Underline vowels, divide between the two consonants to get two syllables

Mur Der

Now we can use the ur and er rules to figure out the sounds. Spelling it if you have never seen the word might be difficult because both of the syllables sound just alike, right? Right. So OG is not always about spelling something you haven’t seen, but realizing how to pronounce it once you have seen it and remembering it easier because you were able to divide it, making it smaller, and more manageable.

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Be Open to Open Syllables

We’ve gone through the closed syllable and silent (or magic) E syllable. Next in the REVLOC system of classifying syllables is the open syllable.

An open syllable is one with a vowel at the end of the syllable, making the vowel long. In comparison with the closed syllable, which is closed in by another consonant that makes the vowel short, the open syllable does not have a consonant after it, and so the vowel “says its name.”

For example:

Word:    me                        The e is long because there is no consonant closing it in. It is an open syllable.

Add a d: med                     The e is short because the consonant d is closing it in, making it short.

Now look at it in a word where it is a syllable to be separated out. This is how someone learning English can distinguish it is long.

Example: baby                  ba-by (both syllables are open)

Underline the vowels.  With Rabbit words, we learned that the syllables would be divided between the consonants. Not so with open.  In a word like baby, we use what is called Tiger words.

The pattern is: v/c – the rule is, after the first vowel, split the word.

(I will go more in depth about the different kind of division rules in later posts. For now, just know that the Open Syllable is open and it makes a vowel say its name. That is the most important information to take from this writing.)

Our pattern for a closed syllable is: consonant-vowel-consonant (cvc), as in pin

The pattern of the Magic E syllable is: vowel-consonant-silent e (vce) as in pine (or using it in a word, al-pine, di-vine (the i in the first syllable is a schwa))

Here are more examples of Tiger words where the first syllable is open.

So

Me

Mixture of open with closed

Focus

Music

Virus

Moment

Duplex

Defend

Chosen

Mixture of open with Silent (Magic)E

Canine

Decide

Ozone

Unite

Define

Secure

Replete

Humane

Words with Two Open Syllables

Hero

Zero

Loco

Solo

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