What is Phonemic Awareness?4 min read
The two best ways to learn early and healthy reading success are alphabet recognition and phonemic awareness. Now almost all of you might be aware about the former term.
So let’s get into some deeper insights of what phonemic awareness exactly means. It refers to the ability of hearing and manipulating the sounds in spoken words and syllables that are made up of sounding words.
We all know that the English language has a total of 26 alphabets. But do you know how many phonemes we have? Before answering this question, it becomes really important to know what phonemes exactly are.
Phonemes are actually units of sound which distinguish one word from another in a particular language.
Fundamentally this can be explained using much simpler examples and terms. Suppose a child can not distinguish the similarity between ‘moon’ and ‘man’ or can not blend the sounds, he or she may face great difficulty in blending sounds with words.
Lets understand this with examples!
When speaking, we combine phonemes to form a word. For instance, the word HEN has 3 phonemes: /H/E/N/. The word WHEN is also made from 3 phonemes: /Wh/E/N/. Whereas the word WENT has 4 phonemes: /W/E/N/T.
Hope that you now know what phonemes exactly are. So this one’s for you!! Can you tell how many phonemes does the word HUT have? Yes, you got that right! Read about more such words and test your knowledge.
Why is phonemic awareness important?
It is quite evident that the difference between good and poor readers lies in their phonological processing ability. Phonemic awareness is teachable and can be learnt with a little practice right from childhood. Teaching your child more about phonemic awareness doesn’t require any tedious amount of energy as such. It can be quite engaging and interactive.
By understanding these phonemic awareness skills, we can help kids in many possible ways. Believe it or not, the whole of their literacy journey relies upon this factor. It is the base for strong readers. To be more precise, it’s a tool which they really need to catch up for their communication.
When we ask students to rhyme, blend small words to make a word, we are actually working at the phonological awareness level. Phonological awareness can be thought of as a big umbrella with the bigger “parts” of language being the top of the umbrella.
Ways to build phonological awareness
Kids who find difficulty with identifying and interacting with phonemes may be showing early signs of reading issues like dyslexia. It makes sense, right?
Having trouble hearing the sounds in words, it’s going to be harder to put sounds together when your kid is decoding. To spell words, if your kid can’t clearly hear their sounds may prove to be struggling.
Have a look at these researched ways to work on it.
Let words and rhymes be your kid’s best friends
The easiest way to deal with kids is by noticing and playing with words and rhymes they hear almost everyday. The more you work towards these skills, the more easy it will become for your child to read.
Reading aloud for them frequently may help
Choosing books that rhyme or repeat the same sound may help you significantly. Help your kid by drawing their attention to rhymes: “Fox, socks, box! Those words all rhyme. Don’t they almost sound the same?”
Help your child start working on this frequently by putting together sounds of different words. Ask them to connect the sounds with the rest of the words. Question them: what word do they hear if you put them together?”
Emphasize self-learning too
Ask your kid to look for words themselves this time. Don’t help them. Ask them if they heard a word that rhymes with fox. Teach them rhymes and practice saying them together. Also pronounce words like log, cat, frog. Check whether your kid can pick out the word that doesn’t rhyme or not.
Nevertheless, games like “I spy” can be used to work on many of the phonological skills.
Singing with the beat
Another most popular way to help you out is singing. No doubt that singing is a great way to get kids rhyming. Many other types of songs can also be used to teach your kid to focus on other kinds of phonological and phonemic awareness skills.
Let them physically act along
Having a physical act to do with each sound will help students separate the sounds more distinctly and effectively.
To summarise; not all children develop in the same way, of course. They need their own time and space to learn.
Just make sure one thing that whatever you do, keep the activities short and fun. Try something different, if your child doesn’t find the concept ideology engaging or fun to do. The web world is all filled with such resources and ideas online to work on phonological and phonemic awareness skills.