Phonological Awareness

What is phonological awareness?

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear word sounds and to pronounce words and parts of words. Children who have phonological awareness can recognize the sound structure of speech and manipulate those sounds. Phonological awareness requires meta-linguistic skill. This means that the person can think about language in an objective way, as well as use language to communicate to others.

Children, who are learning to read and write in an alphabetic language like English, need to have phonological awareness to use the alphabetic principle. Those who don’t have this skill will have much more difficulty.

Phonological awareness includes phonemic awareness, as well as the perceiving and pronouncing of rhyming words, syllables, word segments, on-sets and rimes.

For many years researchers have theorized and argued whether the development of phonological awareness is a hierarchical process. That is, do children become aware of the syllable first, then the onset-rime, and finally the phoneme? After lots of research it seems that phonological awareness is a developmental and sequential process which usually begins to develop at about age three. The extent of children’s phonological awareness understanding is closely linked to their general language ability.

Did You Know?? Phonological Awareness Development Chart

Teaching practice needs to reflect the age appropriate and developmental abilities of the children and not require them to understand language constructs which are beyond their capabilities. There is much for young children to learn, and the teaching can be done in fun and exciting ways. Could we have a brief video of a segmenting activity? Catherine or someone with a group of children clapping out syllables in names or something.

Few children develop phonological awareness without help. And, for some it is a very difficult task.

There is evidence that young children who are 4 to 5 years of age and aren’t beginning to develop phonological awareness (e.g., can’t make rhymes, or segment words into syllables), can benefit from deliberate phonological awareness training. This could make a huge difference for these children because they will likely have difficulty learning to read due to their lack of phonological awareness skill. Therefore, it is very important that staff of any preschool program (daycare, nursery school, home daycare, or children’s program in an adult literacy program), understand how phonological awareness develops and purposely plan activities which promote it in all the children.

Speech Perception Did you know

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