Compare SPELL-Links with OG-based Programs

How does SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing compare with commercially available Orton-Gillingham (OG)-based programs? We’re glad you asked!

While SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing has much in common with commercial OG-based programs — explicit, systematic, cumulative, multi-sensory, structured literacy — it also has a unique program philosophy that provides many distinctive advantages for learners, which we highlight in the table below.

“The curriculum is…amazing. I love that it has writing and even reading activities to go along with the lesson plans. I'm really blown away by the detail of these lessons. I'm trained in Orton Gillingham and I've dabbled in Words Their Way®. Your SPELL/SPELL-Links program is better than the two of these combined with a shot of steroids. It's fabulous.”

Jen Preschern​
MS, CCC-SLP Chicago, IL


Instruction Directionality and Organization

Print to Speech
Instruction is organized by letter patterns and begins with a letter and the instructor teaches one corresponding sound for that letter.

Speech to Print

Instruction is organized by sounds and letters of words and begins with a sound and the student discovers common and additional allowable spelling choices for that sound.

Instruction Model

Stage/Developmental Model
Instruction typically begins with phonological awareness, progressing to orthographic knowledge, and ending with morphological knowledge in later stages of instruction.

Connectionist/Multi-Linguistic Model

Phonological, orthographic, semantic, and morphological instruction is integrated throughout the program across all grades.

Instruction Entry Points

Entry points are typically limited with same instructional program and sequence for all.


Using the SPELL-Links diagnostic software (SPELL-2)specific lessons and entry points within each lesson are uniquely prescribed for each student, providing differentiated instruction and pacing through targeted intervention plans.

Teaching Philosophy

Teacher Imparts Knowledge
Students are told how our language system works.

Students Acquire Knowledge Through Active Analysis

Students discover how our language system works through active analysis and processing of word forms in a highly-structured context. Carefully-constructed activities and step-by-step presentation, questioning, and scaffolding by providers leads students to identify, demonstrate, and articulate patterns and rules in their own words to ensure they have fully internalized, and not just memorized, information about the way words work.

Syllable Types

Man-Made Conventions for Printed Words
A great deal of attention and instructional time is allotted to marking vowel and consonant letters within a word to determine where to break a word into syllables based on its visual patterns.

Biologically-inherent Syllable Separations of Spoken Language

The focus of instruction for syllables is based on direct mapping of spoken syllables with their corresponding letters; words are broken into syllables based on inborn syllable separations of spoken language.

“Sight” Words

Taught Separately
Sight words are introduced, practiced, and assessed separately as whole words.

Integrated Instruction

Irregularly spelled words are layered within lessons to fully connect the spelling of a word with its sounds and meaning.

Nonsense Words

Stand-Alone Activity
Practice with decoding nonsense words.

Integrated with Instruction

Nonsense words are used by students to demonstrate internalized learning.


Look, Say, Write

Say, Hear, Write, Read

"Auditory Component"

Not Typically Included


Explicit phoneme discrimination and prosodic awareness instruction, critical for struggling readers and writers and ELL students, is included.

Motoric Component

Hand Movement Associated with Sounds
For example, ‘tapping’, ‘pounding’, ‘bumping’ fingers or hands to represent sounds or syllables; ‘finger spelling’ used to represent sounds and then letters; ‘simultaneous oral spelling’, or saying letter names with simultaneous writing of corresponding letters, is taught.

Variety of Motor Associations with Sounds

Spoken sounds are associated with simultaneous writing of corresponding letters to foster development of neural functional connectivity and to strengthen motor memory for authentic writing

Tactile Component

Includes Tactile Experiences
Tactile experiences may include modeling letters with clay and writing in sand or on bumpy surfaces.

Not included

The focus of instruction is on developing motor memories associated with authentic writing.

Declarative vs. Procedural Knowledge

Declarative Knowledge
Students are directly taught specific language patterns and expectancies.

Procedural Knowledge

Students discover specific language patterns and expectancies while immediately receiving explicit instruction and extensive practice in applying their newly acquired knowledge and skills to reading and writing.

Meta-Cognitive and Executive Function Components

One Core Meta-Cognitive Strategy
Instruction typically emphasizes one core strategy—break words into syllables.

14 Meta-Cognitive Strategies

Instruction emphasizes using multiple strategies for independent problem solving when spelling and reading words.


Available in a series of levels, which are generally sold separately.

Materials are available as a complete intervention program.


On average, a complete core program costs $3,000.

SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing complete core program costs $379.

"In the NICHD-funded research on specific learning disabilities (SLDs) involving language that I directed as principal investigator for over 25 years (cross-sectional, longitudinal, genetic, brain imaging, and school- based and clinic- based interventions) our interdisciplinary team published evidence showing that not all reading disabilities are the same and not all writing disabilities are the same. Findings showed that dysgraphia (impaired letter production), dyslexia (impaired word decoding/reading and word encoding/spelling), and oral and written language learning disability (OWL LD; impaired syntactic skills for language by ear, mouth, eye, and/or hand) differed… yet all three SLDs benefit from spelling instruction as in SPELL-Links.”
Virginia W. Berninger, Ph.D
Professor Emerita, University of Washington

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