Phonological & Phonemic Awareness

Phonological Awareness 

Phonemic Awareness 

Have you ever heard these terms or wondered what they mean?  Well, here you go!  I’m going to attempt to give you a “non-teachery” answer. 🙂

Phonological Awareness is a broad term.  It refers to the awareness of sounds in a word.  A child with phonological awareness can identify and create rhyming words, count syllables in a word, or (on the smallest level) identify individual letter sounds in a word.

Phonemic Awarenss fits under the umbrella of phonological awareness.  It is an awareness of the smallest units of sound (or phonemes) in a word.  For example, a child with phonemic awareness could hear that the word bat has 3 phonemes (or sounds):   /b/  /a/  /t/.

Phonological and phonemic awareness activities are things your child can do with their eyes shut.  They only need their ear as they identify and manipulate sounds within words.

What do Phonological & Phonemic Awareness Have to do with Reading? 

Will you hang with me for a moment while I throw some reading research at you? 🙂  I’ll spare you the details. 

If  you were asked to pick from this list what the two best predictors of success in learning to read were, which two would you pick?

  • phonemic awareness
  • IQ of child
  • Father’s SES
  • vocabulary
  • parents read to child
  • knows letter names
  • child attends preschool
  • age of child
  • parents read in their spare time
  • sex of child

According to Share, et. al in Sources of Individual Differences in Reading Acquisition from The Journal of Educational Psychology, they are phonemic awareness and knows letter names.

This quote says it very concisely: “Correlational studies over many years have shown that children who possess high levels of phonemic awareness before beginning to read do better at reading than children with low levels of this skill.  Phonemic awareness has been shown to be a more potent predictor of reading success than intelligence, vocabulary, or listening comprehension.”  

Learning to Read: Beyond Phonics and Whole Language by Thompson & Thompson

So, now that we know what phonological and phonemic awareness are and that they are foundational in learning to read, I want to spend a few posts putting some “skin and bones” on them.  What things can we do to model them?  What kinds of texts foster phonemic awareness?  And in the end of this series, I have a surprise for you that I am very excited about!  I hope you’ll follow me as we explore it together.

And if you’d like a head start, Reading Rockets has a great article about these topics and things you can do with your child to help them in this area.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle Breum
    May 30, 2011 @ 10:18:56

    I look forward to your posts. I’m a huge phonological awareness and phonemic awareness fan! These ARE very important skills.


    • This Reading Mama
      May 30, 2011 @ 17:13:37

      Thanks, Michelle. I’d love for you to share some of your links in your comments. I did use a few of your links, but the idea of linking up every day sent me over the edge…:)


  2. Annie Moffatt
    May 30, 2011 @ 10:45:27

    WOW! This looks amazing Becky! So much great information in one post! I can’t wait to see what you write next!


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