Easy Steps to learning Syllable Division Types, an Overview from Orton Gillingham Coaching


This article is to provide an overview of syllable division rules. A birds-eye view into why we are learning REVLOC and how to utilize syllable labeling.

What is syllable division?

Most of my videos so far have been going over syllable types REVLOC, but I want to give an overview of why we are teaching REVLOC in the first place.

Syllable division is a way to break down words into more digestible pieces for easier reading and spelling.

Syllable Types Review – REVLOC

There are six syllable types in REVLOC and the word REVLOC is the order in which one syllable type is dominant over another. If your student sees a word with the syllable TUR in it – that might look closed, but the R-controlled vowel in it says, it’s R-Controlled. It comes first before being closed.

A sentence to help with REVLOC is: 1. Always look for R first. 2. Then look for E, V, L next, 3. Last look for O and C

REVLOC is used to classify syllables to (hopefully) break down words for easier pronunciation when applied to syllable division.

Why Syllable Division Works

Not that exceptions don’t exist, because they do, but having general rules around breaking down words makes it easier to see patterns and breaks bigger words into smaller pieces that are easier to read and spell.

It also helps us teach things in groups of common words, so students become familiar with words which look alike. Seeing words over and over in groups is helpful for memory retention.

What are the Division Types?

There are seven types of syllable division rules. And within those seven the syllable division is further broken down into sub-divisions.

I’m not going to go into too much detail on the division of each type in one article, but I will make future posts about it with videos.

7 Types of Syllable Division

VCCV syllable division

This stands for Vowel, Consonant, Consonant, Vowel. Within VCCV there are Rab/bit, Rep/tile, Hor/net and Can/dy words.

Rabbit words are the starting point for syllable division. You would have a student underline each vowel, and according to the rule, break between the two consonants to get two closed syllables.

This would be true for Reptile, Hornet, and Candy as well. Underline and break between the consonants and get a Closed-Magic E syllable (reptile) or R-controlled-closed syllable (hornet), or Closed-Open (candy – with the y making a long e sound in the case of candy).

VCV syllable division

Vowel-Consonant-Vowel. Within VCV are Tiger and Camel words. This division rule is a little trickier. Students need to test the words.

Underline the vowels and test.

60 percent of the time you divide after the first vowel to get a long vowel sound, as in Ti/ger.

40 percent of the time you divide after the consonant and get a short vowel, as in Cam/el.

There are also special cases when a schwa is involved. This is something I will go more in depth on in a dedicated article/video.

Consonant + Le syllable division

Students underline the vowel, see the consonant plus le and they go to the end and count back three, and divide.

Within this division type are Puz/zle and Ta/ble words. One will be a closed syllable plus CLE and the other will be open syllable with CLE (marked as an L in revLoc).

VCCCV syllable division

Vowel, consonant, consonant, consonant, vowel. These are called Os/trich words. Students underline the vowels and divide, keeping blends and digraphs together.

VV syllable division

The VV division asks students to divide between unstable digraphs and diphthongs or between vowels which do not form digraphs and diphthongs.

The word types are Li/on and Po/em words. In Lion words, the vowel teams are reversed, so students can see it and know to divide between vowels. In Poem words, the vowels may be a team and may not, so it needs to be tested. For example, oe can be a team (as in the word toe), but in poem, it’s not acting as one. This is advanced.

This should not be confused with the vowel team syllable type, which does keep vowels teams together. For example, a word like eagle. You would go to the end and count back three and divide for the -gle (consonant + le syllable) and get division ea/gle (V/L) (vowel team syllable and CLE syllalbe).

Compound Words syllable division

This is advanced because it requires students to know many words to know they are looking at a compound word. But the rule is to divide between the two words, as in cow/boy or sun/set.

Prefixes and Suffix syllable division

Students will divide between the prefix and root or the suffix and root, or both. This unlocks many words and is very powerful.

I always have students circle any prefixes or suffixes then label. For an example, a word like JUMPING. A student would circle the suffix -ing and put a line between the word jump-ing to easily read the word. Of course, students will have already started with suffixes to do this.

When Do You Teach These?

You get started on syllable division of RABBIT words fairly soon in the Scope & Sequence. Students need a mastery of letters and letter sounds and sound blending to get it. If they can’t read the syllable RAB, then blending the RAB BIT together is going to be very difficult.

The other types are scattered throughout the scope and sequence. Usually after a syllable type is taught a student can begin to learn the division type. This is where your expertise as a teacher or tutor comes in – you know what your students can handle.

Final Word

My hope is to show you how great Orton Gillingham is as an approach for breaking down and reading words using syllable types and syllable division. I will keep going on how each individual syllable type and syllable division works. Just keep watching and reading to see how everything unfolds!

Helpful Links:

OGforALL Workbook Store: https://bit.ly/3llnvDp

Scope & Sequence Workbooks: https://bit.ly/2YN0XDP

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