Phonemic Awareness

What is phonemic awareness?

Phonemic awareness is the ability to recognize that words of one’s language consist of a sequence of individual sounds or phonemes that can be manipulated to form new words. Phonemic awareness is part of a more global term called phonological awareness, which refers to the ability to attend to the phonological or sound structure of one’s spoken language. Phonological awareness follows a continuum from general awareness of words and syllables to a deeper sensitivity of phonemes (individual sounds) within words.  

Why is phonemic awareness important?

According to the most recent comprehensive review of research on phonemic awareness, the National Reading Panel (2000) found that:

§  Teaching phonemic awareness to children significantly improves their reading more than instruction that lacks any attention to phonemic awareness.

  • Phonemic awareness and letter recognition as two of the best school indicators of how well children will learn to read.
Being aware that words are comprised of individual sounds or phonemes is an important foundation for learning to read for the following reasons:

§  English is an alphabetic language based on the principle that letters or letter sequences represent sounds of spoken language. Developing phonemic awareness in young children helps build awareness of the sound structure of the language they will learn to read.

§  It provides children with an understanding of the sounds within words that eventually allows them to make optimal connections between sounds and letters, and sound-spelling relationships.