Orton Gillingham Coaching: Syllable Types & Strategies for Teaching the Concept of Syllables

Syllable types are a big part of Orton Gillingham teaching. Syllable types lead to syllable division, and syllable division leads to reading fluency. This video explains the REVLOC system of syllable types, the teaching order of syllable types, how to introduce the concept of syllables, and strategies for teaching closed syllables.


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In OG we use REVLOC as a Guide for Syllable Types. It’s a made-up word that gives us the syllable names for decoding words later. We start by teaching syllable types.

REVLOC stands for R-Controlled, Magic E, Vowel Teams, Consonant + LE, Open and Closed syllables.

You may have heard it as CLOVER, which is clever because it’s a word, but the reason you might use REVLOC instead is that R-Controlled is dominant over Closed. In CLOVER you see the opposite.

As an example, if you have a word like winter and you break that apart based on the VCCV rule; you will have two syllables, win + ter – to a student, ter might look like a closed syllable, but it’s not.

It’s R-Controlled and the r-controlled part of that syllable is dominant and tells the student to say, TER and to label it as an r-controlled syllable because based on REVLOC: Always look for R first.

REVLOC makes it easier for students to pronounce words because there are rules associated with each syllable type. Once a student learns that seeing a closed syllable means the vowel will be short, it opens them up to something predictable about that syllable. Particularly when someone has not seen a word before, this can come in handy.

A sentence to help:
Always look for R first. Then look for E, V, L next. Last look for O and C.


REVLOC is the order of syllable dominance, but not the order we teach syllables.

The order REVLOC is taught to students is:


Closed syllables                                cat, lip, stop, pump, shrimp

Magic E syllables                              bike, cake, Luke, Pete, poke

Open syllables                                   go, he, she, hi, me

R-controlled syllables                      car, fork, fern, bird, fur, merry, tarry, earth

Consonant +le syllables                  bubble, maple, marble, steeple

Vowel Team syllables                       boat, bee, eight, ceiling, monkey


How do we teach syllables as a concept?

As soon as a student knows the word at or in, you can start to say, that consonant at the end is what makes the vowel short. This is a closed syllable.

If the student asks, what is a syllable, you can say, words are made of syllables. If we break a word down you will have syllables. This is a closed syllable.

The main objective is to keep your explanation as simple as possible.

As you introduce magic e syllable, you say, this is a magic-e syllable – that e makes the vowel say its name.

Now your student has something for comparison. There are two syllable types.


As a strategy, you should make the student read syllables, even though they are not actual words, to get an idea of word units.

Words like, sep and tib – don’t just read them, dictate syllables, and make a student write what they hear, make sure to use the multisensory approach.

Later, you can put two syllables next to each other that are words, but separate the syllables and have the student pronounce each one to make a real word.

For example – in dex   or   mis take


By the Scope & Sequence* you will teach closed (cvc) and magic e (cve) syllables before you begin to teach Rabbit words for syllable division. Each concept builds on the next. Use the terms, but try to avoid definitions that are too difficult for young students. The main idea to get across at first is, closed syllables make the vowel short because of the consonant closing it in. Magic e makes the vowel say its name. These are closed and magic e syllables.

*I’m referring to the Scope & Sequence in the OGforALL Scope & Sequence Workbooks.

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