The Secrets to Orton Gillingham Syllables: CLOSED Syllables


Closed syllables are a type of syllable pattern where a vowel is “closed in” by a consonant or two consonants on either side. This “closing in” makes the vowel short. Of course, there are exceptions, but nine times out of 10, you may follow this rule and know that when a vowel is closed in by consonants, the sound of that vowel is short.

What makes a syllable?

Let’s define what a syllable is. A syllable must contain a vowel. As in nan ny – two syllables. (In this case, the first syllable is closed and the second is open.)

A syllable can be a stand-alone vowel, but not a stand-alone consonant. As in, a lone (the a is a syllable and a schwa).

The C in REVLOC

C in REVLOC stands for closed syllable.

Examples:
One Syllable Words.

These words are labeled with the pattern, CVC – Consonant, Vowel, Consonant
Cat
Leg
Fit
Dog
Up (p closing in u still keeps vowel short)
Ad
In

Beginning with RABBIT Words: Two Syllable, Closed

In Orton Gillingham, the first pattern of VCCV syllable division types of words are called Rabbit Words. To determine syllables, we would underline the vowels, look at the pattern of consonants and vowels, decide where to break up the word and pronounce it.

Examples of Two Syllable Rabbit Words and how to divide.


Rabbit words contain a pattern VCCV or Vowel, Consonant, Consonant, Vowel. Rabbit (underline vowels). When you have two consonants together, especially in a word like this, you will divide between the two consonants.

So Rabbit would be VCCV, two closed syllables – Rab bit.
(A=vowel, B=consonant, B=consonant, I=vowel – all equaling VCCV pattern)

Based on the two closed syllables, someone can know that the word is rabbit. If it were ra bit, without two b’s, the a in the first vowel would be long and the word would be pronounced as such.

Here’s another example,
Napkin nap’ kin
(A=vowel, P=consonant, K=consonant, I=vowel – all equaling VCCV pattern)


Notice: at the point we underline the vowels, we start looking at the pattern. VCCV. Divide between the p and the k and you get two closed syllables. This means we now know to pronounce each syllable as a Closed Syllable and each vowel will be short.

Here are other examples. See if you can notice the VCCV pattern and why each word is divided where it is divided.
Expel      Ex pel
Admit    Ad mit
Confess  Con fess
Compel   Com pel
Kitten     Kit ten
Witness    Wit ness

Using nonsense words, such as Convat (con vat,) is a great way to make sure someone understands the concept rather than just breaking words where they know them to be broken.

Nonsense Examples VCCV:
Hanzad     han zad
Rogdit      rog dit
Proptem   prop tem

One note to keep in mind; when you have an R closing in a vowel, it will be R-controlled because R “trumps” C in the REVLOC.

Example, Bird isn’t pronounced with a short i because the r is changing its sound.

After teaching the easier syllable types and syllable division patterns, it’s easier to move on to other syllable types and vowel-consonant patterns of where to divide words. Pretty soon, someone can divide up three-syllable words and four-syllable words and have a reason for pronouncing each vowel or consonant a certain way because there are rules to follow.

English makes more sense knowing that rules can be followed for pronunciation and spelling!

Want more? Check out the Workbook Store. This information plus worksheets are in the workbook store.

(20) Comments

  1. thank u so much. . .makes fell better when i knw smthng. . . .wot i used 2 call nonsense b4 due 2 not knwing d actual rule. . .hope i learn mch more.!!!!!! glad 2 have this help. . . THANK U SOO MUCH. . . :-):->:-):->:-D:-D

    1. Thank you Divya for letting me know I am helping someone with this blog! It encourages me to continue getting the word out about this method of teaching English.

    1. Hi David, I am planning to continue! Thank you for letting me know you miss my posting. My plan was to go back to writing as soon as my kids went back to school, but so far I have been a tied up studying for a real estate test. I promise to get back to it soon!

  2. Thank you for writing this!

    I have a question about the middle bit. I understand the bit about VCCV patterns, but in the middle of the post you say this:

    “Notice: at the point we underline the vowels, we start looking at the pattern. CVVC. Divide between the p and the k and you get two closed syllables. This means we now know to pronounce each syllable as a Closed Syllable and each vowel will be short.
    Here are other examples. See if you can notice the CVVC pattern and why each word is divided where it is divided.”

    and I can’t identify the CVVC patterns — they all still look like VCCV to me. Is it a typo or am I missing something vital? Help!

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