Identifying different sounds that make words and associating these sounds within written words are an essential foundational component for early literacy skills. There are forty-four phonemes (sounds) in the English language; this includes letter combinations such as /th/. In addition to identifying these sounds, one must be able to manipulate the sounds. This is often referred to as phonemic awareness. There are five levels of phonological awareness, ranging from rhyme to being able to switch or substitute the components in a single word. Phonological awareness affects early reading ability as well as strengthens emerging reading skills.
How To Teach Phonological Awareness:
To teach phonological awareness, begin by demonstrating the relationship between parts to wholes. Start at sentence level; segment short sentences into individual words in order to show how the sentence is made up of words. This can be done by using chips to represent the different words in the sentence. Once this relationship is understood at the sentence level, you can then move on to word level. Begin by segmenting multi-syllabic words into two syllables, eventually moving to segmenting words into individual sounds. This will increase phonemic awareness. This can be achieved by asking the students to produce that sound, both in isolation as well as in a variety of words and syllables. It is best to begin with easy words and gradually progress to more challenging words.
7 Phonological Awareness Example Exercises:
- Rhyming (e.g., tell me all the words that rhyme with mop)
- Identifying initial sounds in words (e.g., does mop begin with the /m/?)
- Word to word matching (e.g., do pen and pipe begin with the same letter?)
- Phoneme deletion (e.g., what word would be left if the /k/ sound were taken away from cat?)
- Phoneme counting (e.g., how many sounds do you hear in the word “cake”?)
- Blending (e.g., what word would we have if we blended these sounds together: /m/ /o/ /p/.)
- Phoneme segmentation (e.g., what sounds do you hear in the word cat?)
Children should be demonstrating these skills by the end of their first year in grade school. By practicing these skills, you will be providing your child with greater success, therefore, increased confidence. Try one of these exercises today and watch your child blossom!