The Port Hope Learning Centre

64 Charles Street,
Port Hope, ON L1A 1S5
Tel: 613 513 5015


1. What is The Orton Gillingham Program?

The O/G Program is a language program designed for children and adults, who struggle with Reading, Writing, Spelling and Handwriting. It is a multi-sensory, systematic, phonological curriculum, based on a number of theories of reading research. It honours the multi-sensory theories and methodology of the late Dr. Samuel Orton and his research partner, the Quaker educator, Anna Gillingham. Orton Gillingham is science based and its methods are backed by the considerable research of The American National Institute of Health. This Institute has empirically proven that giving students, who struggle with Reading and Spelling, phonological awareness training impacts positively and powerfully on their Reading and Spelling skills.

2. What is a Multi-Sensory Approach?

Using a multi-sensory approach means helping a student to learn through more than one of the senses. Most teaching in Ontario schools is done using either sight or hearing. However, dyslexic children may experience difficulties with one or both of thesesenses.Vision may be affected by difficulties with tracking or visual processing and while hearing may be satisfactory on a hearing test, auditory memory or auditory processing may be weak. When a child uses more of his/her senses, especially the use of touch and movement (kinetic), other areas of the brain are stimulated. The result for the student establishes clear memories of phonemes which are essential for reading fluency.

3. What is Phonemic Awareness Instruction?

Phonemic Awareness is the ability to segment words into their component sounds. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in the English language that can be recognised as being distinct from other sounds. Phonemic Awareness instruction is an essential first step in learning how to read for students with a reading disability.

4. What is Phonological Awareness?

It is the ability to notice, think about or manipulate the individual sounds in words. Phonological Awareness is a skill which can be improved with direct training and practise.

5. What is a Reading Disorder?

The most well-known type of reading disorder is The Word Level Reading Recognition Disability (WLRD).This is also known as Dyslexia. Dyslexia is a neurologically based condition which is characterized by difficulty understanding and applying the alphabetic principle. The alphabetic principle is the ability to understand that letters are used to represent speech sounds and that there is a systematic and predictable relationship between written letters and spoken words.

Research now shows that reading disorders can be considerably reduced by good quality, early intervention. To that end, both the UK and the USA have legislated phonemic awareness instruction for their emergent (kindergarten) readers. Canada, to date, has not done so.

6. What is Dyslexia?

The following definition is taken from The International Dyslexia Association Ontario Branch: Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. In Ontario, dyslexic students may be identified by the Ministry of Education as Learning Disabled with a Communication Exception. The terms Specific Reading Disability, Specific Spelling Disability or Specific Writing Disability may also be used. Many people refer to dyslexia simply as a reading disability.Dyslexia may present with varying degrees of severity.

7. What is the cause of Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is neurological in origin. The exact causes of dyslexia are still not completely clear, but anatomical and brain imagery studies show differences in the way the brain of a dyslexic person develops and functions. Typically, dyslexics have problems with phonological awareness.

8. How common is Dyslexia?

It is estimated that 15-20% of the population has dyslexia. In Canada that's an estimated 5 million people. In every classroom there are likely 4 or 5 students who have difficulty reading and writing. Dyslexia affects males and females almost equally.

9. What is the Difference between the terms Dyslexia and Learning Disability?

Dyslexia is a type of learning disability (LD) and represents the vast majority of all LD’s. An individual can have more than one type of learning disability. Fortunately, dyslexia is considered highly responsive to appropriate treatment.

10. What type of Reading Program is best for my child?

The International Dyslexia Association recommends that a reading program be based on a multisensory structured language approach. (The following information has been taken from the International Dyslexia Association’s website)

The content of the reading program must contain the following: