What is phonemic awareness?

What is phonemic awareness? Why is it important?

What is phonemic awareness and why is it important when learning how to read? A student has phonemic awareness/is phonemic aware if the student can hear, identify, and manipulate sounds in the SPOKEN word. Students understand that words are made up of sounds. The student understands that the different sounds in a word makes the word have meaning.

So… Take the word cat. A student has phonemic awareness if the student can recognize/understand the beginning ‘c’ sound. The student can also hear and recognize the ending ‘t’ sound, and the student can hear the ‘short a’ sound in the middle of the word.

Students can blend sounds c-a-t to form the word cat. Students can also change the word c-a-t to form a new word f-a-t or p-a-t, or r-a-t. They can also change the sounds to form new words: cat becomes cot or cut.

Phonemic Awareness helps with phonics: learning to write and spell. Phonemic awareness helps a student read and understand words.

One great way to help students become phonemic aware is helping students with rhyming using  word families/word ladders. Reading to your child from an early age naturally helps a student develop phonemic awareness. When you student seems like he/she is ready to read, start asking questions about the different sounds in words and see if your child hears the different sounds in the words. Your little reader does not have to be fluent at picking out and writing and spelling these sounds to be phonemic aware. He/She just needs to be able to hear these sounds and understand that words are made up of different sounds and letters.

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2 Comments

  1. What great reminds about using word families. Another great post to help me think through our “school” days.

  2. I was just working with Joshua on this today–blend ladders and sounding out short vowel words. They have to understand this concept to read!

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