The phoneme is really the smallest unit of language in human speech. Letters may be the thread that ties language together, but phonemic awareness is critical to understanding and clarity. A single letter appearing in multiple words could have a variety of pronunciations. Take the following three words: rate, awe, and cat. Each letter “a” is pronounced differently. Understanding that concept is essential to learning to read in a writing system based on a finite alphabet. It’s a major reason why it’s equally important for teachers and educators to use engaging phonemic awareness activities.
Start Using a Phonemic Awareness Program at an Early Age
The ability – or lack thereof – to understand phonemics is a great predictor of reading difficulty. Teaching phonemic awareness is vital to the development of solid auditory, writing, and reading skills. Focusing on pronouncing one sound in a word at a time, breaking down familiar words into their individual phonemes, is the start of an effective phonemic awareness program. Here are a few strategies that teachers and educators can use to help their students better understand phonemics.
- Demonstrate Your Own Mastery of the Concepts
Practice makes perfect. Everyone knows the meaning of that adage. For an adult, sounding out phonemic awareness lessons in private prior to introducing them in a classroom setting just gives you a more intimate awareness of the lesson. Simply naming the letter in question is not enough. For young students learning the different pronunciations, auditory examples are always better. These are the phonemic awareness activities that have the most impact and drive home proper pronunciation.
- Put the “Play” into Your Wordplay
Drills and memorization activities are essential when it comes to teaching phonemic awareness, but this shouldn’t be the only strategy when trying to teach phonemic awareness to kindergarten or primary grade students. Spend time in advance to identify some fun phonemic awareness activities or games that can be incorporated into your lessons to make them more engaging. Using phonemes to build nonsense words and creating silly word combinations to spark laughter will help ease the minds of your students. An online phonemic awareness program with auditory reinforcement, colorful images and games can be a great way to add some fun as well.
- Consider Your Reading Materials
Teaching phonemic awareness is challenging enough. Try to utilize reading materials that make it easier. Books that rhyme or that focus on teaching alliteration or assonance awareness help move the process along. Look into authors whose books incorporate phonemic education consciously or unconsciously. The material you use is crucial to inspiring your students to pay attention.
- Put the Lessons to Work Helping You Teach
Practicing the words used in teaching phonemic awareness is important to help children adopt proper use of the words. However, it’s also important for them to write them down. The physical act of writing the words and then pronouncing them reinforces the concepts that form the basis of strong phonemic awareness activities.
Make Teaching Phonemic Awareness Fun with Essential Skills
Practicing your own phonemics and inspiring students to do the same through fun activities and clever wordplay will help you be successful in your efforts. Essential Skills Phonemic Awareness program uses hundreds of multi-sensory activities to teach students at a K-2 grade level 38 different phoneme sounds, how to isolate these sounds in words, phoneme addition, deletion, and substitution. It’s an easy way to add some fun to your phonemic awareness instruction.