Orton Gillingham for All

Always, Then, Last: REVLOC order

In my Orton Gillingham journey I’ve heard some who use the word CLOVER to teach syllable types. In the class I took, the word to remember syllable types is REVLOC.

The reason for using REVLOC is that this is the order of the syllable for labeling. CLOVER may be an actual word, but REVLOC will give better guidance when trying to decode a word by remembering which syllable types overrule the next.

I’ll give an example and then you can see the attached sheet for further explanation.

The syllable: tur

At first glance, it might seem that this is a closed syllable. But closer inspection tells us that the syllable is actually “r-controlled” and we have to use that rule because “r-controlled” comes before closed syllables.


Always look for R(-controlled) first.
Then look for E, V, L.
Last look for O and C.

Also included in this post is a worksheet of syllable types for labeling and the answers.

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Go to the End and Count Back Three, if You See Consonant + LE

So, I have another blog called Moms Soul Café, which I posted to yesterday. Today, I was going through my past posts and noticed that I accidentally posted the following OG information to my Mom’s Soul Café blog. I imagine my audience was a tad confused about the relevance of Consonant + LE in that genre! But hopefully they learned a little something.

The syllable pattern in REVLOC is is a departure from the Vowel-Consontant-Vowel patterns. This one is Consonant+LE. It is the L in REVLOC.

If you have not read the post on REVLOC, please read it and come back.

When you have a word with a Consonant+LE at the end, count back three letters, then divide the word. Consontant + LE is ALWAYS at the end of the word.

The C+LE endings are:

  • ble
  • dle
  • fle
  • gle
  • kle
  • tle
  • zle
  • ple

They are pronounced as:

  • ble = b’l (as in bubble)
  • dle = d’l (as in idle)
  • fle = f’l (as in ruffle)
  • gle = g’l (as in giggle)
  • kle = k’l (as in pickle)
  • tle = t’l (as in turtle)
  • zle = z’l (as in sizzle)
  • ple = p’l (as in people)

Within this syllable division type there are different kinds of words.

One, when the middle consonant is doubled.

For example: Cuddle, sniffle

Or, when there is a consonant you can hear.

For example: shingle, tangle, purple

Or, when there is a ck inside the word.

For example: crackle, fickle, freckle, pickle

In this case, when dividing the word, you DO break up the CK.

So, to actually divide a word, it would look like this:

  • Cuddle (Oh! I see a C+LE!) I go to the end, count back three, and divide

Cud (closed syllable or C)      dle (Cons. + LE or L)

  • Purple (I see C+LE at the end!) go to the end, count back three, and divide

Pur (r-controlled or R)             ple (Cons. +LE or L)

  • Crackle (I see C+LE at the end! But oh no, there’s CK and I have been told to leave blends and digraphs together. RULE: In cons. + LE you are allowed to break up the CK)

Crac (Closed or C)                 kle (Cons. +LE or L)

Here is a worksheet to try. It asks that the student write the sound of each Consonant + LE syllable just like the list I wrote above.

cons + le worksheet


More Syllable Division: The Long & Short of –ci, -si, -ti, -xi

Today, I received a great question from a reader. After my last post on syllable division, she asked me, “What do you say about the letter i in the following examples: div i sion in ci sion de li cious am bi tion ig ni tion???”
I can understand the confusion, based on my previous posts. According to what I have said so far, those I’s should be long because the syllable is considered open. Now we get into a more advanced rule of division. It has to do with the suffixes on those words.
This division rule has to do with -ci, -si, -ti, -xi being suffixes. They are Latin in origin.
In words containing these suffixes, you look at the letter preceding the suffix to determine if it is a long or short vowel.

A’s, O’s and U’s are always LONG
E’s are sometimes long and sometimes short
I’s are always SHORT
Examples of words for each letter:
A: com pli ca tion (that I in the syllable before the ca is a schwa), spa cious, gla cial, na tion — A is always LONG
O: so cial, fer o cious, ex plo sion, com mo tion — O is always Long
U: con sti tu sion (I in syllable before tu is a schwa), con fu sion, eff u sion — U is always Long
E: com ple xion (e can go either way, long or short! must test it because there is no rule), com ple tion, pre cious, spe cious
I: ig ni tion, am bi tious, in ni tial, arti fi cial (I in syllable before fi is a schwa), di vi sion — I is always SHORT
A trick to remembering these is: you can “Fill In” letters that are “strong” (or LONG).
Picture an “a” where the space is filled, O filled in, U can be filled in. “e” can only fill a little bit (in that top part) so it is sometimes long sometimes short, but the “weak” “i” holds nothing, so it is always short.

ci si ti xi long short


Here is a work sheet I did in class and an answer key (in case my writing is illegible).

ci si ti xi worksheet

ci si ti xi ans key



A Mountain View: Labeling and Syllable Division

We have covered all of the components of REVLOC and the different syllable division rules. Today, I would like to condense that down to an overview, so, hopefully, a bigger picture can be formed.

First, REVLOC, stands for types of syllables. These syllables are then classified by the corresponding letter from the REVLOC system. Once classified (or maybe labeled is a better term), the word can be broken down and pronounced based on the rules associated with each syllable type.

The word “REVLOC” is what it is because that is the order in which each syllable type should be considered in pronunciation. For example, the word “war” might look like it is a closed syllable, however, the “ar” in this word make it an R-controlled syllable. R comes before the C in the word REVLOC, so that is how we know that the R-controlled is the rule to follow rather than Closed.

R – R-controlled

E – Magic E

V – Vowel Teams

L – Consonant + LE

O – Open

C – Closed


Once the labeling of syllables based on the REVLOC system is learned, moving forward into different types of words based on this system of labeling the syllables makes the words easier to pronounce.

What you get is a system of labeling syllables and then applying those labels to types of word-patterns. These word-patterns are based on vowel-consonant patterns within the words.

To overview these patterns:

Compound words: Divide between the words.                  Cow       boy                        Sun        set

Prefix/Suffix words: Divide between the prefix and/or the suffix and root. (un  im  press  ive  ly).

Consonant + LE (puzzle words): Count back three letters              Cir           Cle

Words with ck divide after the c                                Spec      kle

VCCCV (ostrich words): Do not divide consonants that go together, like blends and digraphs.

An          them

VCCV (rabbit, hornet, candy words): Divide between the two consonants.          Mag net

VCV (tiger, camel, hotel, motel words): 60% of the time, divide after the first vowel to get a long vowel sound. (pi  lot).

40% of the time, divide after the consonant to get a short vowel sound. (cab  in).

Special cases (hotel and motel), divide to get a schwa vowel in an unaccented first syllable (Japan). (pe  can). These are based on where the accent goes (which is determined by where the emphasis is when pronouncing a word).

VV (Lion and poem words): Divide between unstable digraphs and diphthongs or between vowels that do not form digraphs or diphthongs. (ru  in)  (li  on)  (e  on)

A diphthong is a word that had a vowel team which starts out as one sound but ends up as another, so that both vowels are pronounced. For example: coin, lion, ruin. Digraphs are two letters that come together to form another sound all together, like th or ch, tch.


CW = Compound Words
The first three of the diamond are for older kids/adults
Teach VCCV first and VV last (it is advanced)


It’s Just an Ostrich! VCCCV Patterns

Now that we have gotten through the more challenging VCV syllable pattern, we can move to the next in line – VCCCV, Vowel-Consonant-Consonant-Consonant-Vowel. Even though it looks longer and possibly more challenging, this one requires less work to break up than VCV.

If you have not yet read the posts on REVLOC, VCCV, and VCV, I suggest reading those and coming back to this post. OG is a system that builds one section of lessons upon the next. This is the section called Syllable Division Rules.

The class I took, we called the VCCCV pattern Ostrich words. The main rule about Ostrich words is that when dividing, allow the consonants that go together to stay together. Those that would go together are blends and digraphs.

I have not yet posted on blends and digraphs, so I will give a brief description here and plan a more in depth post next week.

A Digraph is consonants that come together to make a new sound. Examples would be, th, ch, tch, sh, wh. Notice that we do not say, “t” “h,” we say, “th,” as in think or “c” “h,” we say, “ch,” as in chimp. The letters are together and being pronounced as one sound.

A blend is when consonants come together and we can hear both sounds. As in, bl, (blind), cl (climb), nd (found), st (lobster), gr (pilgrim). It doesn’t matter where the blend appears in a word, you can hear each letter clearly making its own sound.

So, going back to VCCCV, Ostrich – this is the breakdown of that word.


Here are a couple more examples of VCCCV breakdown.



Below are examples of words with VCCCV pattern .



Now you try! Two worksheets:




They Come as a Team – Vowel Teams

So we’ve now gone through all of the syllable types except one in the REVLOC system of syllable division. We have covered C, E, O, R, and L. The final type of syllable is Vowel Teams – the V.  These vowel teams are vowel sounds (it’s the sound, not just the letters) formed by two or more letters (notice it is letters, not vowels) within the same syllable.

For example:







In dividing a word, a Vowel Team syllable will look like this:

Conceit                                      con (closed or C)  ceit (vowel team or V)

As a side note: is this a vowel team?  The word: Quit?  NO! It is not. It is a closed syllable. QU is considered a consonant and always appears together in English. Why is this important? For pronunciation. This makes the “i” in Quit stay short as it would in most closed syllables.


Below are the vowel teams, what sound they make and example words. So here goes:

ai says ā (long a) as in Train. It usually occurs at the beginning or middle of words.

Examples: ail, mail, main, hair, quail, chair, stair, frail, air, strain, Spain, faith, waif, snail, drain


ay says ā (long a) as in Tray. It comes at the end of words.

Examples: bay, say, spray, pay, stay, haystack, away, sway


oa says ō (long o) as in boat. It comes at the beginning and middle of words.

Examples: oat, coat, coach, throat, loan, goal, toast


oe says ō (long o) as in toe. There are very few words  and it is usually at the end of words.

Examples: toe, doe, foe, hoe, Joe, roe, woe, Moe


ee says ē (long e) as in bee.

Examples: deed, seem, speed, knee, fee, screech, fifteen, sleet, indeed, greed


oi says “oi” as in oil.

Examples: point, avoid, thyroid, devoid, rejoice, loiter, typhoid, poison, coil


oy says “oi” as in boy. It is usually at the end of a word, with a few exceptions.

Examples: joy, employ, soy, alloy destroy, deploy, viceroy.

Exceptions from the end of word sentence: The loyal, royal, oyster took a voyage. These “oy” words are in the middle of the words.


oo commonly says “oo” as in food.

Examples: too, zoo, moon, boost, shampoo, proof, zoom, hoop, tattoo


oo also says “oo” in a few words, as in foot.

Examples: book, brook, cook, hook, wood, shook, hood, good, nook, hook, wool, soot, stood, look, took, nook, crook


ow says “ou” as in cow.

Examples: flower, shower, dowel, clown, tower, chowder, sow, endowment, plow, drown, brown, gown


ow also says “ō” (long o) as in snow.

Examples: blow, flown, thrown, elbow, owner, willow, sloe, owe, flow, growth, rainbow


ie says “ē” (long e) as in thief. It is usually in the middle.

Examples: belief, priest, siege, brief, field, pier, yield, shriek, fierce, achieve


ie also says “ī” (long i) as in pie. Usually at the end of words and there are very few.

Examples: pie, die, lie, tie, fie, vie, belie, underlie


ou says “ou” as in house.

Examples: about, amount, loud, foul, voucher, shroud, stout, proud, tout, thou, count, noun, gout, our


ou also says “oo” as in soup. These are French words that have made it into the English language.

Examples: croup, group, route, wound, you, youth, youthful, coupon, cougar, lou, Louis


ou also says “ŭ” (short u) as in double. This is rare.

Examples: trouble, couple, country, touch, young


au says “ô” as in auto. It comes at the beginning or the middle of words.

Examples: fault, launch, vault, gaudy, fraud, Paul, saunter, taut, sausage, daunt, saucer, laundry, jaunt


aw also says “ô” as in saw. It usually comes at the end of words.

Examples: claw, saw, draw, straw, flow, thaw, jaw, squaw, law, paw, raw, slaw

RULE: if a L, N, or K follow the “o” sound, use AW at the end. Examples: hawk, lawn, dawn, yawn, and scrawl.   In other words, if you hear this sound “ô,” and it’s at the end, always use the AW, not AU, as AU will not appear at the end of a word, only beginning and middle.


ea says “ē” (long e) as in eagle.

Examples: beach, bead, leave, treat, speak, tea, wheat, teacher, squeak, teach, steal, real, leap, heat, ease


ea also says “ĕ” (short e) as in Bread.

Examples: dread, sweat, instead, heavy, jealous, thread, lead (the medal), threat, heaven, pleasant, already, wealth, death, deaf, heading


ea also says “ā” (long a) as in steak. This is rare.

Examples: steak, break

NOTE: A sentence to help remember the sounds of EA is The eagle ate bread and steak.


ey says “ē” (long e) as in monkey. It is at the end of words.

Examples: barley, jockey, valley, money, dickey, New Jersey, chimney, key, volley, journey, pulley, turkey


ey also says “ā” (long a). It is rare.

Examples: they, convey, disobey, obey, hey, prey, survey, whey


igh says “ī” (long i) as in light. In the base word (if in a compound word), it is either at the end or followed by the letter t.

Examples: blight, high, sight, frighten, flashlight, lighthouse, highway, highness, moonlight, sigh, fright, insight


eigh says “ā” (long a) as in eight. In the base word (if in a compound word) it is either at the end or followed by the letter t.

Examples: weight, sleigh, neighbor, neigh, eight, eighty, weigh, freight, eighteen, neighborhood, eighty-eight.


ue makes the two long sounds of u: “oo” and “yoo.” As in, A true rescue. UE will come at the end of the word.

ue says “oo” as in true.

Examples: due, rue, avenue, sue, subdue, blue, glue, misconstrue, pursue


ue also says “yoo” as in rescue.

Examples: hue, statue, cue, argue, virtue, tissue, issue, continue


ew says both “oo” and “yoo”. As in, He grew a few inches. EW will come at the end of words.

ew says “oo” as in grew.

Examples: blew, chew, pew, mildew, jewel, new, grew, threw


ew says “yoo” as in few.

Examples: pew, few, pewter, nephew


ui says “oo” as in fruit. There are very few common words with this vowel team.

Examples: suitor, juice, nuisance, bruise, pursuit, cruise, recruit, suit, sluice


eu says both “oo” and “yoo” as in eucalyptus and Zeus. These are Greek in origin and not common.

eu says “oo” as in Zeus.

Examples: neuter, neutral, neuron, neural, neuritis, sleuth, deuce


eu also says “yoo” as in feud

Examples: feudal, Europe, eucalyptus, euphemism, Eugene, euphoria


ei says “ē” (long e) and comes after the letter c.

Examples: ceiling, conceive, conceit, deceive, receive, deceit, receipt, perceive


ei also says “ā” (long a) as in veil.

Examples: vein, rein, skein reindeer, heir, surveillance


Don’t Get Ruffled or Baffled by Consonant + le

So far, I have covered R, E, O, C in the REVLOC system of breaking down words to provide rules for easier word pronunciation. Next, comes the L, which stands for Consonant + LE syllable types.

This type of syllable ALWAYS appears at the END of words. The E (the vowel in this type of syllable) is ALWAYS silent. Dictionaries may represent this syllable pronunciation as /b’l/ (to indicate the silence of the e).

Examples of consonant + le syllables:

ble          able                       notice the split:  a  ble – a is an open syllable so it’s long, ble is cons. + le

dle          cradle                    Split: cra (open), dle (cons. + le)

fle           stifle                      Split: sti (open), fle (cons. + le)

gle          bugle                     Split: bu (open), gle (cons. + le)

kle          tinkle                     Spit: tin (closed, but altered by the “ink”), kle (cons. + le)

tle           little                       Split: lit (closed), tle (cons. + le) – notice that if there was only one t, the i would be long.

zle          sizzle                     Split: siz (closed), zle (cons. + le)

ple          maple                   Split: ma (open), ple (cons. + le)

Here are examples of words that use the consonant + le.

Type 1 – middle consonant doubled, this makes only one sound in the middle:

Cuddle (it’s not cud, dle for the pronunciation, but if you only had one d, the u would be long)







Type 2 – consonant you can hear (unlike the previous, you can hear the consonant before the cons. + le syllable here):

Shingle (“ing” alters the sound of the i in this closed syllable)





Type 3 – ck in the middle:

It appears that the break would be, frec, kle. But, when you have a letter combination like ck, it’s a digraph, and blends and digraphs stay together in word breakdowns. So, technically, it’s freck (k)le. Honestly, as long as the person doing the word breaking can pronounce the word at the end of the split, then the word can be broken up any way you want.

But keeping the “ck” together, means a person would not try to pronounce the c AND the k. They are a digraph, which means that they are two letters together making one sound. Other digraphs are ch, tch, sh, th, wh.






Type 4 – open syllable with ble:








Sentences for dictation – always have student read back, aloud, what (s)he has written.

The table was brittle.

His freckles made him humble.

The title of the puzzle made her giggle.

He was gentle with the cattle.

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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


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.


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.



Mixture of open with closed








Mixture of open with Silent (Magic)E









Words with Two Open Syllables






The E has Magic – Silent E Syllables

Having covered closed syllables in REVLOC, we now move on to “Magic E” syllables. The magic of the Magic E is that by adding the silent e to the end of a syllable, it “makes the vowel say its name.”

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

With a closed syllable, the “closing in” with the consonant makes the vowel short. With Magic E, adding the e at the end makes the vowel in the middle long, or “makes it say its name.”

Here are examples:

Din         Dine

Hat         Hate

Grim      Grime

Slim        Slime

Sit           Site

Glad       Glade

Kit           Kite

Rip          Ripe

The Magic E concept can be taught at early as kindergarten. At my son’s school they were learning sight word, after sight word. When I began helping him learn the words, I realized many of them had rules! I helped him memorize the word “make.” That was on the Dolch list and is there because it is a frequently used word.

But after I taught him, make, I told him the reason the vowel was long. I explained the magic e concept in comparison with the closed syllable, which I also taught him using many the sight words. I then said, “If “make” is “make,” then what if I replaced the m with a c”? (Based on magic e), “It’s cake,” he said.

I also took words like mad, which I had taught him was a short a sound because it was closed, and I added an e to it and asked him what it was now. We went through several of these. And before you know it, he could read more than just sight words, he could read many words based on rules.

The sight words started to make more sense too, because those that didn’t follow the rules had a place. Like the word “kind,” based on the rules should have a short i, right? But it doesn’t so it’s a sight word. Same with the word, “love.” Should have a long o, right? But it doesn’t. In many cases, as with the words above, these are very old anglo-saxon words.

In my OG class, we made cards that folded over and had an “e” on the flap. We took an index card and wrote “dim” on one side of it, folded it over and put an e on the flap. When showing this to a student and teaching the concepts of closed versus magic e syllables, the student reads the word “dim,” we flap the e at the end of it and ask what it is now. “Dime.” We made a deck of these to go through.

dime photo

After going through the deck, we ask that the student write sentences that we say out loud (dictation). Then have the student read the sentence out loud.


I hate that hat.

It is his fate to be fat.

Let’s make a kite with a kit.

We dine on figs and cake.

Hand Mike that rake.


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