WHAT IS PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS?
Phonological awareness is a more general level of awareness than phonemic awareness and includes not only awareness of phonemic structure of words but also awareness of the syllabic structure of words and rhyme.
Phonological awareness is the ability to hear sounds that make up words in spoken language. This includes recognizing words that rhyme, deciding whether words begin or end with the same sounds, understanding that sounds can be manipulated to create new words, and separating words into their individual sounds.
Phonological awareness is not the same as phonics. Phonics deals with the relationship between sounds and the letters that represent those sounds. Phonological awareness deals with the sounds in the words and not the letters.
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO ME: A CHILD’S PERSPECTIVE
When a child has a difficulty or frustration, they are usually unable to express what is causing this feeling. Instead they may say, “ I hate this!“ ,“It’s stupid!“, or they may avoid the task all together. Those few children who are able to express themselves often tell me:
- When you say change the /b/ sound in bat to /c/. I have no idea what you mean.
- I don’t know how many sounds are in my name.
- I don’t know the first sound in the word “pan”.
- When you give me the words “bat”, “cat”, “man”, I can’t tell which one doesn’t belong.
WHAT I SEE AT HOME: A PARENT’S PERSPECTIVE
Here are some clues for parents that a child may be having reading difficulties as a result of his or her phonological awareness:
- He doesn’t know that words like cat and bat rhyme.
- She doesn’t know how many sounds are in the word “pop”.
- He can’t tell me the first sound in his name.
- She can’t tell me the two sounds in “no”.
WHAT I SEE IN THE CLASSROOM: A TEACHER’S PERSPECTIVE
Here are some clues for teachers that a child may be having reading difficulties as a result of his or her phonological awareness:
- He has difficulty substituting sounds in words.
- When I say, “The word is bun. Change /n/ to /g/. She doesn’t know the new word is bug.
- She can’t separate the sounds in a word, and is unable to count them.
- He is unable to identify individual sounds in a word.
- She is unable to blend sounds into a word. /c/-/a/-/t/ = “cat”.