How to Divide Vowel Team Words in Orton Gillingham

In dividing words with vowel teams in Orton Gillingham there are two types:

Lion Words

Lion Words. In Lion words there will be a reversal of vowel teams. For example, io as in lion, rather than oi as in oil. Another example is ia as in dial, rather than ai as in rain. When a student sees the reversal, it means, in most cases, the team will be divided (split up) and the first vowel will be long.

In Lion Words, these are vowels that are together, but they are not vowel teams and you would never teach this concept before teaching vowel teams.

Examples: Eon is e on, aorta is a or ta, viola is vi ol a

Poem Words

Poem Words. In Poem words, it’s a little more complicated, in that there will be recognizable vowel teams, but they are unstable and will still split up. So a student will need to “test” the word to see if it make sense.

If you go back to the teaching of each vowel team, notice there are notes of placement. For examples: ue is usually at the end of a word. If it’s in a different position, most likely it will split when dividing. That’s one way of catching the unstable teams.

Examples: Poem (oe is usually at the end as in toe, here it is in the middle, so it splits) po em,

But, it isn’t always that obvious. A word like fruit keeps the vowel team in tact. A word like fluid, it splits. If a student tries to say, fl/oo/d, it doesn’t work. But, fl/?/ /?/d, does work.

This is where a rich vocabulary comes in handy and why these VV words are so far later in the Scope & Sequence than the other division rules.

Vocabulary Review

Diphthongs are two vowels making two separate sounds, but blended together make a new sound. Examples oi saying “oi” as in oil or ou saying “ou” as in out.

Digraphs are two consonants together making one new sound, as in sh, or two vowels together making one new sound, as in ai saying /?/ or oe saying /?/.

A word like eon, where the vowels end up divided, is not a diphthong or a digraph because they do not make a new sound, the vowels are divided and each make their own sounds. A word like boa where it could have been a vowel digraph or any word where it could have been a diphthong, we can call those “unstable digraphs and diphthongs” (just to give them a name) and divide them accordingly.

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