All Orton-Gillingham programs have these features in common:
- Phonology (study of sounds) and Phonological Awareness –the ability to segment words into their component sounds.
- Sound-symbol association-mapping speech to print
- Syllable instruction- teaching of the six basic types of syllables in the English language and the rules that dictate syllable division.
- Morphology-the study of how roots and affixes combine to form words and convey meaning.
- Syntax-the set of rules which dictate the sequence of words in a sentence; this includes grammar and the mechanics of language
- Multi-sensory-using all learning pathways in the brain (visual, auditory, kinesthetic-tactile)
- Systematic and cumulative-material is organized in the logical order of the language beginning with the simplest and progressing to the more difficult
- Direct Instruction-direct teaching of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction.
- Diagnostic teaching- the teaching plan is based on continuous monitoring of the student’s needs. Everything taught is learned so that it becomes automatic before moving forward to the next step.
- Synthetic and analytic instruction-Synthetic is used in spelling and writing (which are harder than reading) and they require combining the parts of language to form whole words; reading requires the analytic instruction which teaches how reading can be broken down into its component parts.