Phonemic awareness has been shown through research to be the single most powerful predictor of future reading ability in beginning readers.
What is phonemic awareness?
Phonemic awareness is a term that means 'awareness of the individual speech sounds of language'. The term comes from the word 'phoneme', which is the technical term for a single speech sound in spoken language. That's easy to remember if you know that the word 'phoneme' comes from the word 'phone', which means 'sound'!
For example, what are the speech sounds in the word 'spin'? Remember, we are not talking about the letters in the word (i.e. "ess, pea, eye, owe, en"), but the speech sounds made by the mouth.
Move your mouse or your finger over the numbers below to hear the speech sounds:
Understanding that the word "spin" is made up of these speech sounds is an example of phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to be aware of and to perform tasks using individual speech sounds in spoken words. For example, if you take the /s/ out of the word above, what is the new word?
The ability to join speech sounds together to make a word (a skill called blending) and the ability to divide words into their separate speech sounds (a skill called segmentation) are two of the most important phonemic awareness skills for students learning to read.
WHY IS PHONEMIC AWARENESS IMPORTANT?
Phonemic awareness has been shown through research to be the single most powerful predictor of future reading ability in beginning readers. Difficulty with phonemic awareness is a hallmark of the struggling reader.
Strong phonemic awareness skills give students learning to read an advantage in learning the relationships between the speech sounds of the language (phonemes) and the letters and letter patterns that typically represent them (graphemes). This ability helps students to learn to decode written language when reading unfamiliar words (it also helps students to encode words when spelling).
The role of phonemic awareness and its relationship with phonemes, graphemes and letters may be summarised using a 'Word Burger" analogy. We have created a free infographic for you to view and download HERE.
WHICH READING DOCTOR® APPS HELP WITH DEVELOPING PHONEMIC AWARENESS?
Apps for teaching basic phonemic awareness skills
The following Reading Doctor® teaching tools help students to understand the speech sounds in CVC, CCVC and CVCC words (words such as 'cat, stop' and 'list'). These tools are recommended for teaching phonemic awareness skills to beginning readers (aged 4-8) as well as to older, struggling readers. For more information about how each app targets phonemic awareness, please click on the links:
Apps for teaching students more advanced phonemic awareness skills
Once students have developed basic phonemic awareness skills, the following tools can help you to teach phonemic awareness using more complex words. For more information about how each app teaches phonemic awareness, please click on the links: