Lindamood Bell Vs. Orton Gillingham: Which Reading Program Suits Best For Your Kid?

Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Editorial Team

Reading difficulties are a reality, and the efforts are on to help beginners overcome those sustainably. A few noted educators did commendable work to develop methods that helped work around reading difficulties. Some used the phonetic development approach while others concentrated on lexical knowledge and application of cognition. Based on these approaches, a few language teaching methods emerged. In this post, we examine Lindamood Bell vs. Orton Gillingham. Let’s comparatively analyze these two instructional approaches.

I. Lindamood Bell

What is Lindamood Bell’s approach?

Lindamood Bell’s approach focuses on sensory-cognitive[1] ways of imparting reading skills. It emphasizes focusing on imagery-words connection to develop comprehension skills and enhance understanding of word usage in various situations. This approach uses concept imagery and symbol imagery to develop reading and listening comprehension skills respectively.

Best features of Lindamood Bell’s approach

Lindamood Bell-based instructions for reading have the following characteristic features:

  • Individualized learning: Lindamood Bell’s reading instruction method puts the readers’ abilities in focus while deciding the pace as well as structure of the learning program. The need is to transform the instructional methods as per the learners’ grasping style and not to stress them out in adjusting to the methods available. This approach accomplishes quite a pronounced way of individualizing the learning style.
  • Promotes independent learning: The instructions based on Lindamood Bell’s approach prepare learners for independent learning. Since the students practice both symbol and concept imagery, their associative memory improves. They equip themselves with sufficient knowledge to self-correct themselves and augment the prediction in reading.
  • Coding the text dual way: The text has to be decoded semantically as well as conceptually. This approach allows both lexical and conceptual coding by symbol and object imagery association helping learners work their brains to develop language skills.
  • Making sensory-cognitive associations: Adopting a sensory approach to learning to read process and then building cognition using the things learned are the primary deliverables of this language learning approach.

Utility of Lindamood Bell Approach

This approach finds its best utility in building active reading skills[2]. It is not fair to expect a child to stay glued to reading books. Children put their efforts more wholeheartedly when the learning environment is a bit collaborative. Reading beginners need to practice more and need activity-based practice support. Lindamood Bell’s approach is used for designing summer reading programs, activities in classrooms, and homeschooling programs for reading strugglers.

Evidence-based reading programs based on the L-B approach

The l-B approach minimizes struggles of reading. Educators have designed certain programs that enable extracting better participation and maximizing dose-response impact. Some of the reading programs worth trying are:

  • Seeing Stars: It is a reading intervention program that utilizes symbol imagery to boost children’s basic skills. Sight words, orthography, spelling abilities, and ultimately, overall fluency are some of the skills that this program focuses on.
  • Visualizing and Verbalizing: Poor concept imagery is visible in the form of dismal retention abilities. This weakness is addressed head-on with the visualizing and verbalizing program; the outputs achieved are better levels of memory, critical thinking, reading and listening comprehension, and fluency in oral and written language expression.
  • Talkies: It is simpler than visualizing and verbalizing and focuses on concept imagery weaknesses. The reading program is prescriptive in nature and addresses issues like sentence construction, oral and verbal expressions, and thought disengagement.
  • LiPS: It is a phoneme sequencing program for preschoolers. Bringing awareness of the part of the mouth used for sounding out words can help in memorizing the pronunciation and phonetics; it is based on this thought process. Fluency in speech, reading, and spelling are plausible outcomes of this reading program.

Designed primarily for preschoolers and language beginners, this approach can provide a strong primer for robust language build-up.

II. Orton Gillingham Approach

What is Orton Gillingham’s Approach?

Learning by way of decoding language skills into smaller ones forms the basis of the Orton-Gillingham approach. It employs an explicit and sequential approach[3] to build literacy skills for beginners. Designed to keep dyslexia and learning difficulties in mind, the approach encourages the use of multisensory learning in the word-building and language development process. Building letter recognition first, and then, moving to higher levels of fundamentals of reading helps the language beginners overcome difficulties.

Features of OG approach

Orton Gillingham’s approach’s principles stipulate taking individualized needs into consideration while applying them to the instruction model. This language instruction approach[4] is:

  • Structured
  • Explicit
  • Multi-sensory
  • Direct
  • Diagnostic
  • Prescriptive

Orton-Gillingham was a neuropsychiatrist-psychologist duo in the 1930s who worked towards understanding the causes of language difficulties and developed solutions for the same. The approach adopted was structured and systematic and yielded results when utilized in an individualized manner. Phonics building and capitalizing on it to move to higher levels of fluency were the main principles used in this method. This approach offers a playful way of building language skills in children with dyslexia or language disorders.

Utility of Orton Gillingham Approach

Several reading programs were developed based on Orton Gillingham’s approach. Some of these focused on augmenting phonemic awareness skills, while others laid emphasis on other reading and writing skills. Examples are:

  • All About Reading: Multisensory instructions employed for building phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension
  • Barton Reading and Spelling: Impacts are Improvement in phonemic awareness, phonological memory, and rapidness in name retrieval; overall impact is better vocabulary and improved speaking ability.
  • Logic of English: Improvement in reading, spelling, and overall handwriting are a few positive outcomes of this reading program.
  • Reading Horizons: A multisensory approach that produces improvement in establishing logical outcomes from written text and helps build better comprehension abilities, other deliverables are enhanced memory retention and boost in concept recall.

Which one to pick?

Should you make the choice between the two, it is essential to diagnose the problem and its extent first. Also, have a pilot period for evaluating the progress.

As per a study[5], the OG approach impacted mean ES (effect size) on skills like phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, spelling, etc. to some extent. The approach can serve the purpose better when you have chosen to build skills gradually. Starting with letter recognition, then moving on to sound decoding and coding, and gradually, building other skills on these basic ones help OG followers develop reading fluency over the individualized testing periods.

According to an intervention report, the Lindamood Bell Approach-based LiPS program can evidently improve alphabetic or lexical knowledge. It may serve as a primer for preschoolers who start with gaining alphabetic knowledge. Teachers use other reading programs based on LB to give children complete support for building various language skills.

These studies indicate that the reading programs designed with an aim to improve certain skills are to be offered in combination(s) to get a cumulative impact. Having said that, both have utility in the specific areas of language building, are prescriptive in nature, and are to be applied in a learner-centric manner. In any case, burdening the child with reading programs and undue experimenting with methods is not advisable. Keep it simple to make it effective!

Wrapping up

Comparing the two approaches is needed to find their utility in a child’s learning curve. These approaches are well-researched, employable, and require collaborative learning for better delivery. As a teacher or a parent, if you intend to offer extra support to the child to overcome language deficiencies, you can employ these approaches. Ample training is a must to achieve seamless dissemination.


  1. Wang, Lin & Fan, Xitao & Willson, Victor. (1996). Effects of Nonnormal Data on Parameter Estimates and Fit Indices for a Model With Latent and Manifest Variables: An Empirical Study. Structural Equation Modeling-a Multidisciplinary Journal – STRUCT EQU MODELING. 3. 228-247. 10.1080/10705519609540042.
  2. Donnelly, P. M., Huber, E., & Yeatman, J. D. (2019). Intensive Summer Intervention Drives Linear Growth of Reading Skill in Struggling Readers. Frontiers in Psychology, 10.
  3. Laney, J. (2011). Orton-Gillingham Reading Method. In: Goldstein, S., Naglieri, J.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development. Springer, Boston, MA.
  4. Orton Gillingham: Who, What, and How, Sayeski, et. al., Teaching Exceptional Children Journal, 2018
  5. Stevens EA, Austin C, Moore C, Scammacca N, Boucher AN, Vaughn S. Current State of the Evidence: Examining the Effects of Orton-Gillingham Reading Interventions for Students With or at Risk for Word-Level Reading Disabilities. Except Child. 2021 Jul;87(4):397-417. doi: 10.1177/0014402921993406. Epub 2021 Feb 22. PMID: 34629488; PMCID: PMC8497161.

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