What is Phonological/Phonemic Awareness?

  • The awareness of sounds in a language.
  • Awareness of rhymes
  • Awareness that sentences can be broken down into words, syllables, and sounds
  • Ability to talk about and manipulate sounds
  • The ability to understand the relationship between written and spoken language

The Importance of Phonological Awareness

Phonemic awareness skills are a strong predictor of long-term reading and spelling success and can predict literacy performance more accurately than variables such as intelligence, vocabulary knowledge, and socioeconomic status.

Phonological awareness skills are necessary and important for your child to develop reading readiness and is the foundation of reading. These skills are developed as a child starts to listen to, identify, and manipulate the sounds in oral language.

Types of Phonological Awareness Skills

  • Concept of spoken word- understanding the amount of words in sentences
    • Clap for each word you hear in this sentence, “Tom ran home.”
  • Rhyming- rhyming recognition, completion and productions
    • Do “said” and “soap” rhyme?
    • What rhymes with cake?
  • Syllable blending- when a child put parts/syllables of the word together
    • Pausing between syllable what word is formed by these parts “rain – bow”
  • Syllable segmentation- ability to clap out each syllable in a word
    • Clap for each syllable/part you hear in this word “fantastic”
  • Syllable deletion- the ability to remove parts/syllables of words
    • Say the word “skateboard”, now say the word without “skate”
  • Phoneme isolation of initial and final sounds – being able to identify the first/last sound of words
    • What is the first sound in the word “top”, what is the last sound in the word “fill”
  • Phonemic blending – blending individual sounds to make words
    • Put these sounds together to make a word: /ch/ /o/ /p/
  • Phonemic segmentation – being able to state the sounds in words
    • What sounds do you hear in the word “lap”, /l/ /a/ /p/
  • Phoneme deletion of initial and final sounds – the ability to delete sounds
    • Say “seat”, now say “seat” without the /t/ sound
  • Adding phonemes – adding phonemes/sounds to different parts of a word
    • Say “ink” now add /s/ at the beginning of the word
  • Phonemic substitution – the ability to replace the sound of a word with another sound
    • Replace the first sound in “pig” with /d/


Signs your child is struggling with phonological awareness skills

  • Minimal interest in rhyming books and rhyming-based play/songs
  • Inability to remember repetitive, nursery rhymes
  • Unable to clap out syllables in words
  • Difficulty independently developing rhyming words in play
  • Cannot categorize words that sound the same
  • Unable to identify sounds in words and overall difficulty with sound-letter correspondence
  • Difficulty manipulating sounds in words
  • Demonstrates difficulty with literacy activities in school

If your child has difficulty with phonological awareness or phonics a SLP can evaluate and help your child develop reading readiness. The SLP will consider all prerequisite skills needed for literacy , including phonological awareness skills and develop an intervention plan that is individually-tailored to your child’s needs.