How many times have you heard teachers talking about phonics and speech-language pathologists talking about phonemes — and both groups talking about phonological awareness? This has happened so frequently that sometimes they get muddied up in my brain. Here are the definitions and differences between the terms:

1.Phonological Awareness refers to the development of different phonological components of spoken language (Lane & Pullen, 2004, p. 6). Students who have strong phonological awareness recognize when words rhyme. They notice syllable and word patterns. Having phonological awareness skills is directly related to reading ability. The fact that poor readers have weak phonological awareness skills doesn’t surprise me. Phonological awareness skills include:

2. Phonemic Awareness refers to the knowledge about a phoneme and an individual’s ability to detect, blend, segment, and manipulate individual sounds in words. As speech-language pathologists, we know that a phoneme is just one sound. There are 41 phonemes in English that we use to combine into syllables and words when we speak. While a phoneme is just one sound and is the smallest level of speech production, according to reading experts it is actually the highest level of phonological abilities. They says that it develops after children learn to manipulate words and syllables. Children who lack phonemic awareness will have trouble learning phonics and decoding, especially when they need to sound out and blend letters to form new words.

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