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Phonemic Awareness and Phonics: Why You Need to Know their Relationship
Assessment and Intervention
Understanding the relationship between phonemic awareness and phonics is crucial for identifying strengths and weaknesses in a child’s literacy skills.
For example, if a learner is struggling with segmenting or blending sounds orally, it may indicate a need for focused phonemic awareness development.
On the other hand, if struggling readers have trouble with decoding and word recognition, it may indicate a need for targeted phonics instruction that focuses on blending.
Targeted Foundational Skills Instruction
Understanding the relationship between phonemic awareness and phonics will enable you to provide targeted instruction for unlearned skills.
When a student is unable to identify or isolate sounds in a word (a lack of phonemic awareness), their knowledge of the sound/spelling relationship will be impaired. Targeted instruction to develop phonemic awareness may include intensive (small group) practice with phonemic tasks such as identifying and isolating sounds in the initial, final, or medial position of a word, blending and segmenting words orally and with markers, or deleting/adding a sound from/to a word.
When a student is having difficulty blending sounds into words, intensive (small group) reteaching of the letter names and sounds – perhaps using sound/spelling cards that are available in most reading programs – will be required. This reteaching should be followed immediately with application by leading the students to blend VC and CVC words – initially using a supportive blending technique such as sound-by-sound blending. In this blending technique, the teacher writes the spelling for each sound, and students say the sound. This is repeated until the vowel spelling has been sounded. Then the students blend the sounds through the vowel, after which the sounding and blending continues until the whole word is sounded and then read as a whole word..
Comprehensive Literacy Development
Both phonemic awareness and phonics are crucial components of a comprehensive literacy program that also includes language comprehension development.
Phonemic awareness supports the development of phonics skills, which, in turn, enable children to decode and encode words accurately.
When educators teach these foundational skills explicitly and systematically students can develop a strong foundation for reading, spelling, and writing.
Improve Your Teaching Reading Skills with CORE Learning
Although the importance of phoneme awareness has been recognized since the 1970s, widespread phonological awareness instruction has focused on teaching words, syllables, and onset-rimes before turning to phonemes. It is not necessary for students to master phonological skills before beginning instruction at the phoneme level. Experts are now recommending that the focus for instruction at the phoneme level should start in the beginning weeks of Kindergarten.
Knowing how and when to teach phoneme awareness is crucial to set your students up for reading success. Watch this webinar by literacy researcher Dr. Susan Brady to deepen your understanding of the most effective approaches to teaching phonemic awareness.
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