What is Phonemic Awareness?
To find the answer, we should first understand what phonemic awareness is. It is basically the recognition that language is created by combining smaller units of sound known as phonemes. As young children learn to speak, they may not recognize the fact that words are not usually one sound but a combination of smaller sounds. Because spoken language tends to be fluid, kids will often hear words and even phrases as a single auditory experience (“gimmeeahug” rather than “give me a hug”). Phonemic weakness has nothing to do with intelligence but frequently results in a reading or writing impediment. A Phonemic awareness program implemented at an early stage in language development can help to lessen these affects.
What Are Some Benefits of Learning Phonemic Awareness?
Phonemic awareness comes naturally to many children, but to others difficulty in this area can lead to a lack of awareness of the connection between spoken word and print. Fortunately, science has proven that phonemic awareness can be successfully taught and learned. Teaching phonemic awareness in early years can help children to develop into stronger readers and writers.
Some benefits of phonemic instruction are improvement in the capability to
- isolate and distinguish individual sounds
- identify phonemes
- categorize sounds and recognize patterns
- divide phonemes in a word
- blend sounds together
- delete phonemes to form new meanings
- change or manipulate phonemes
Why Should Phonemic Awareness Be Linked to Reading?
The most successful phonemic awareness activities will link oral phoneme recognition to the printed word, involving two senses simultaneously (auditory and visual). By seeing a letter, or later a written word as they sound it out, learners will form a strong link between the two strands of language (oral and written). Online phonemic awareness programs utilize both auditory and visual components that allow a child to make use of their growing knowledge of the written alphabet with the sounds these letters represent. Soon the young learner will be able to play with both sounds and letters to make up new words and to work back and forth between the two.
What Is the Best Age to Learn Phonemic Awareness?
Teaching phonemic awareness can begin when a child starts to make recognizable sounds. There are play-based activities that can be enjoyed with very young children available in online programs. Phonemic awareness activities should be continued as a child learns more about spoken and written language. Learning to read involves a cluster of complex skills. To become a fluent decoder requires the acquisition of many new concepts, but phonemic awareness is one of the most fundamental and a foundation of our written and spoken language.