Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic Awareness: What is it? How does it relate to reading?

Phonemic awareness combines the auditory and visual components of reading. It is the ability to understand sound structure. When we receive information through our senses, seeing, hearing, and doing, we use phonemic awareness to recognize words, phrases, and sentences. It is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate sounds. When we typically hear or read a word or a word part, we don’t often think in terms of the different sounds that are combined to make the word. Building these recognition skills of the sounds and components that make up words directly improves reading skills. Phonemic awareness is one of the five tenets of reading.

Components of Phonemic Awareness

Phoneme blending: Children listen to a sequence of separately spoken phonemes and then combine the phonemes to form a word. /d/ /o/ /g/ is dog. (This is the process used in decoding words.)

Phoneme segmentation: Children break a spoken word into its separate phonemes. There are four sounds in truck: /t/ /r/ /u/ /k/. (This is the process used in spelling words phonetically: “invented spelling.”)

Phoneme/Grapheme Correspondence: This is the sound/symbol relationship which also deals with visual memory. You teach which sounds are represented by which letter(s), and how to blend those letters into single-syllable words and then multi-syllable words.

Phonemic awareness instruction can help beginning and more advanced readers alike.

When You Improve Phonemic Awareness, You Inherently Improve Your Spelling, Reading, and Even Note-Taking

Phonemic awareness is one of the foundational pieces of reading. Bridging phonemic awareness with phonics is your ability to use that awareness and match the sounds to the symbols. These are two pieces of the five tenets of reading. Combining and improving your phonemic awareness and phonics also improves your ability to listen effectively and even take notes from a lecture.

The Five Tenets of Reading

  • Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds – phonemes – in spoken words.
  • Phonics is using the awareness of sounds and matching the sounds to the letter symbols.
  • Fluency is the ability to retrieve words effortlessly.
  • Vocabulary is the group of words you know and use effectively.
  • Comprehension is the ability to understand, analyze, synthesize, and use what you have read.

Phonics: More than matching the sounds with the symbols!

If students know the structure of how we put letters together to make words, the spelling (vowel) patterns, they can spell thousands of words. Your ability to see the patterns within words helps them to not only know what they are they are looking at but also know what sound the vowels will make. Conversely, when they hear a vowel sound, they’ll know how the syllable must be spelled to make that sound.

Playing with words, individual components of words as well as the vocabulary (meaning) of words expand a student’s ability to read, comprehend, and spell unfamiliar words. Our Summer Reading Program uses these specific strategies to improve reading skills effectively.

Areas of Auditory Processing

Who is Bonnie Terry?

Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET is the author of Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills, Ten Minutes To Better Study Skills and numerous others books, reading games, and guides and the Awaken the Scholar Within Programs. She is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America’s Leading Learning Specialist and the founder of BonnieTerryLearning.com. Terry is an expert in identifying students’ learning disabilities. Ms. Terry coaches teachers and parents so they can give their child a 2 to 4-year learning advantage in just 45-60 minutes a day. She is a frequent media guest and speaker.

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