LETRS and Orton-Gillingham Training

by | Apr 25, 2024


Comprehensive Guide for Teaching Reading:  Teaching reading effectively requires understanding both the theory and application of literacy instruction. Two prominent training programs—Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) and Orton-Gillingham (OG)—equip educators with extensive knowledge and skills in reading instruction. This article explores these programs, delineating their methodologies, comparing their advantages and challenges, and discussing their implementation in classroom settings.


What is LETRS Training?


LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) is a professional development program that offers a deep dive into the science of reading. LETRS provides educators with the theoretical knowledge needed to understand the processes underlying reading and writing. This program covers the latest research in neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and education, teaching educators why certain methods are effective. It addresses all key components of reading instruction, including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing.


What is Orton-Gillingham Training?


Orton-Gillingham is a structured literacy approach designed originally to teach individuals with dyslexia. This hands-on, multisensory instructional method focuses on teaching the how of reading. It emphasizes sequential, incremental learning of phonics and structure, using multisensory techniques tailored to each learner’s needs. The OG approach is highly flexible, allowing for adjustments based on student progress and mastery.


Differences Between LETRS and Orton-Gillingham Training


  • Focus: LETRS is more comprehensive in scope, focusing on the science and reasoning behind reading practices, while OG is a direct, structured method focusing primarily on application and technique.
  • Content: LETRS covers a broader spectrum of reading components, whereas OG is specifically targeted at phonics and decoding skills, particularly beneficial for students with learning disabilities.
  • Training Delivery: LETRS training is typically more theoretical and can be delivered through workshops and self-study modules. OG training is hands-on, requiring direct practice with students as part of the certification process.


Pros and Cons of Each Approach


  • LETRS Pros: Comprehensive coverage of reading science, beneficial for general and special education teachers; enhances understanding of reading development and challenges.
  • LETRS Cons: Can be heavy on theory, which may overwhelm some educators without direct application.
  • OG Pros: Highly practical, tailored to individual student needs; effective for students with dyslexia.
  • OG Cons: Training is intensive and the approach requires substantial time to implement properly with each student.


Implementation and Classroom Integration


  • LETRS: Teachers trained in LETRS gain a broad understanding of literacy that can enhance any reading curriculum. The challenge lies in translating theoretical knowledge into practice, particularly in aligning with existing curricula that may not be structured around the science of reading.
  • Orton-Gillingham: While highly effective, OG’s individualized approach can be time-consuming to implement across a classroom. However, it offers strong adaptability to integrate with various reading programs, providing specialized support as needed.


Addressing Diverse Learning Needs


Both LETRS and Orton-Gillingham provide strategies that can be beneficial for special education, ELLs (English Language Learners), and MLLs (Multilingual Learners). LETRS offers strategies based on understanding the linguistic challenges these students may face, while Orton-Gillingham offers tailored, individualized instruction that can be particularly effective for students with specific learning disabilities.


Which Approach Is Better?


The choice between LETRS and Orton-Gillingham should be based on the specific needs of the students and the instructional goals of the educator. LETRS may be preferable for educators who want a thorough understanding of the reading process to inform their teaching strategies broadly. In contrast, Orton-Gillingham may be the choice for those working intensively with students who require systematic, multisensory instructional strategies, particularly in special education contexts.


Both LETRS and Orton-Gillingham offer valuable tools and knowledge for teaching reading. Educators are encouraged to consider their personal educational philosophy, the needs of their students, and the logistical aspects of their teaching environment when choosing between the two. By integrating the strengths of these approaches, teachers can enhance their literacy instruction and help all students achieve proficiency and beyond in reading.