Why is Phonemic Awareness so Important?

Specific Phonemic Awareness Skills: Phonemic awareness is recognizing and being able to manipulate the phonemic structure of language. It includes the following specific skills:

1) The ability to isolate and distinguish individual sounds (the word fish starts with /f/, the word Sam starts with /s/, or the word ‘cat’ ends with /t/)

2) The ability to identifying phonemes (the words ‘bat’, ‘boy’, and ‘Billy’ all start with the /b/ sound whereas ‘tall’ and ‘toy’ start with the /t/ sound)

3) The ability to categorize similar sounds and recognize phonemic patterns: this includes the ability to recognize rhyming words (cat, mat, fat, and sat all rhyme) and the ability to recognize similarities and differences in a group of words (bake and bike start with the same sound but they do not rhyme) or (in the group of words ‘bug’, ‘rug’, ‘run’ and ‘hug’, the word ‘run’ is different)

4) The ability to segment phonemes in a word (the word ‘cat’ is made of the sounds /k/ /a/ /t/, the word ‘shake’ is made up of the sounds /sh/ /ay/ /k/),

5) The ability to blend sounds together (the sound /t/ /o/ /p/ put together make the word ‘top’, the sounds /r/ /u/ /g/ put together make the word ‘rug’)

6) The ability to delete phonemes. (Say the word ‘train’ without the /t/ and the child can say ‘rain’) or (Say ‘mud’ without the /d/ and the child says /mu/)

7) The ability to manipulate phonemes making changes/substitutions (What would the word ‘milk’ be if it started with the /f/ sound instead of the /m/ sound? and the child can say ‘/filk/’, What would the word ‘rug’ be if it you changed the /r/ to a /m/? ‘mug’)

Link the Phonemic Awareness to Print!

Wait! Oral phonemic awareness alone is not sufficient. It is no surprise that the research shows that the phonemic awareness instruction/training is most effective when children are taught to manipulate phonemes with letters. In other words, the greatest effectiveness in helping children learn to read occurs when the essential oral phonemic awareness (hearing/recognizing the sounds) is linked directly to the printed letters (the specific black squiggle). This is teaching the child to link the phonemic awareness skills to the alphabetic awareness skills. Not only can they hear that the word ‘monkey’ starts with the /m/ sound but they can point to the printed letter ‘m’. They can recognize and link sounds to the print.

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