This whole business with OG and dyslexia is quite confusing. We’ll give it to you straight and in understandable terms that won’t leave you guessing what we really mean!

What is Orton-Gillingham?


Orton-Gillingham is often recommended as the “gold standard” choice for dyslexic students, but what does Orton-Gillingham (OG) mean? Many people are confused by this term and assume that OG is a program, which actually isn’t true! OG is an approach (you could think of it as a methodology or a philosophy as well!) and there are many wonderful programs that have been created based on this approach. Aardvark is one of them but you may have also heard of Barton, Wilson, Dyslexia Training Institute, Orton GIllingham Online Academy, etc. All of these programs (and many, many more) are based on the OG approach.

The approach was developed by two researchers (Dr. Orton and Dr. Gillingham – hence the name!) almost a century ago.

OG has many required components, it must be:

–               Systematic

–               Explicit

–               Multi-Sensory

–               Diagnostic

–               Prescriptive

–               Individualized

–               Structured

Who owns OG?


You may be surprised to hear that NOBODY owns OG! It’s kind of like CPR and first aid, in that it is understood and taught by many people but no one owns the approach upon which it is based.

What is Dyslexia?


Dyslexia is a learning difference that affects students’ ability to process written information. Despite being of average or superior intelligence, dyslexic students have an incredibly difficult time reading and spelling compared to those who are not dyslexic. A simplified explanation is that the dyslexic brain processes the written word in a roundabout way. Rather than the information heading directly to the areas of the brain that quickly process the input of written information, it visits other areas of the brain first. This results in dyslexic students having to analyze individual words, every time they read them. Conversely, in typical readers the information is input almost directly to the area of the brain that immediately pulls the required information to read the word quickly (what the word is, what it means and how to read or spell it).

One important thing to note is that though dyslexic students have difficulty with reading and spelling, they often have incredible strengths in many other areas.

Why is OG a good choice for dyslexic students?


OG is a great choice for dyslexic students because it is structured in such a way that it explicitly and systematically teaches students the basics of the English language. It starts at the very foundation of making connections between letter(s) and their pronunciation(s). It builds from the simplest to the more complex by systematically building on previously taught concepts. With repetition students are able to become more comfortable with the content and build their knowledge in a structured way that improves their ability to remember and implement what they learn in the classroom.

Another reason why OG is great for dyslexic students? It’s multi-sensory! Using different input modalities like sight, sound, touch and movement (not taste – usually! Haha!) makes it easier for students to remember what they learn. This is a simplified explanation of course, but basically by using different areas of the brain to learn the same concept, you make it easier for the student to understand and remember.

Is The Aardvark Reading and Spelling Program an OG program?


Yes! The Aardvark Reading and Spelling Program contains all of the necessary components of an OG program. What’s more, we include many concepts from structured word inquiry by using a linguist-informed understanding of the English writing system. We discuss the role of meaning and history as well as the role of phonology (pronunciations) in reading and spelling.

As a bonus, in our “Pick 3” section of the lesson, students get to pick 3 activities each session that get them up and moving with activities that reinforce the concept being taught. Check the video below to see an example of our activities in action!

What will my certification be after completing this program?


Once you complete all of the modules within the Aardvark Tutor Package you will be certified to teach the Aardvark Reading and Spelling Program. Since this is an OG-based program you can tell your clients that you are certified to teach the Aardvark Reading and Spelling Program, a program based on the OG approach.

Who We Are

Sara Dorken – Director of Programming and Development

Sara is a passionate tutor and online trainer who specialises in using the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach while working with students with Dyslexia and other learning differences. She has trained in many OG-based programs and has been certified to teach the OG approach from the Dyslexia Training Institute based out of the University of San Diego. Sara has helped develop the aardvark program and has made it unique by using her extensive background in sport and physical activity (M.A. Human Kinetics) to integrate movement in order to build physical literacy and traditional literacy in struggling students.

Janet Dorken – President and CEO

Janet has been working with students with learning differences and difficulties for the past 15 years.  After working for the Ottawa Carleton Board of Education for over 25 years, Janet has decided to dedicate herself full-time to helping her students succeed at Aarken Tutoring.  As a warm and caring person, Janet takes great pride and pleasure in seeing students arrive as non-readers and leave as readers.

Information about our commitment to Human Rights as a business: Ontario Human Rights Code