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What is Phonemic Awareness

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Phonemic Awareness is defined as the ability to identify, hear, and work with the smallest units of sound known as phonemes. It is NOT the same as phonological awareness, instead, it is a sub-category of phonological awareness. For example, phonemic awareness is narrow, and deals only with phonemes and manipulating the individual sounds of words – such as /c/, /a/, and /t/ are the individual sounds that make up to form the word “cat”. Phonological awareness on the other hand, includes the phonemic awareness ability, and it also includes the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate larger units of sound such as rimes and onsets.

Phonemic awareness can be taught very early on, and will play a critical role in helping children learn to read and spell. While it’s not set in stone on when a child can learn to read, however, I do believe that a child that can speak is a child that can learn to read. Children as young as two years old can learn to read by developing phonemic awareness, and they can learn to read fluently.

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Below are several of the most common phonemic awareness skills that are often practiced with students and young children:

Phonemic identity – being able to recognize common sounds in different words such as /p/ is the common sound for “pat”, “pick”, and “play”.

Phonemic isolation – being able to recognize the individual sounds of words such as /c/ is the beginning sound of “cat” and /t/ is the ending sound of “cat”.

Phoneme substitution […]

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    How to Teach Phonemic Awareness While Reading Bedtime Stories

How to Teach Phonemic Awareness While Reading Bedtime Stories

Helping young children develop phonemic awareness early on is one of the keys for children to develop exceptional reading and writing skills once they begin attending schools. Did you know that studies have indicated that phonemic awareness is the single best predictor of reading success for young children once they begin school? In fact, studies have found that phonemic awareness is far better than IQ at predicting the reading and spelling abilities of young children.

Most people know about phonics, and what it is; however, far fewer people know what phonemic awareness is. In short, phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and work with the phonemes. For example, /d/, /o/, and /g/, are the individual sounds of the word “dog”. Please note, the letters enclosed in the slashes denotes the sound of the letter, and not the name of the letter. Phonemes are the smallest units of individual sounds that form a word.

Phonemic awareness is not something you’re born with, and it is an ability that’s gained through repeated exposure to listening, speaking, and reading. As parents, there are many different strategies you can use to help your children develop phonemic awareness such as playing simple word segmentation or oral blending games.

Like most parents, we (my wife and I) read bedtime stories before we put our children to sleep, and one of the best strategies that we like to use to teach phonemic awareness to our children, is to mix in word segmenting and oral blending when we read bedtime stories for our kids. This is an exceptional method, because it doesn’t take any extra time or effort, since reading bedtime stories is something you already do. So, here’s […]

How to Teach Your Baby to Read

Teaching your baby to read is becoming more and more high priority for parents now as it becomes clear that learning to read at a young age offers numerous advantages for the child once he or she begins school. Studies have consistently found that teaching a baby to read and helping children develop phonemic awareness well before entering school can significantly improve their development in reading and spelling. However, when it comes to teaching babies to read, there are two main teaching methods.

These two main methods of teaching a baby or child to read are the whole language method, and the phonics and phonemic awareness method (the phonetic approach), which should be the preferred teaching method in helping children learn to read. Some prefer the whole language method, while others use the phonics approach, and there are also educator that use a mix of different approaches. With the Look-say approach of whole language learning, a child begins with memorizing sight words, and then taught various strategies of figuring out the text from various clues.

The whole language method produces inaccurate and poor readers compared to students of the phonetic approach. Using the whole word approach, English is being taught as an ideographic language such as Chinese. One of the biggest arguments from whole-language advocates is that teaching a baby to read using phonics breaks up the words into letters and syllables, which have no actual meaning, yet they fail to acknowledge the fact that once the child is able to decode the word, they are able to actually READ that entire word, pronounce it, and understand its meaning. So in practicality, it’s a very weak argument. English is an alphabetic system, and […]

How to Teach Phonics and Reading

Teaching children to read by teaching phonics activities is a lot like doing math, where you have to know what the numbers are, how to count, and you need to learn to add and subtract before learning to multiply and divide. Teaching phonics to children is no different where you follow a step by step approach by first teaching the child the alphabet letters and phonics sounds, and then teaching them the combination of different letters to create different words, and using words to form sentences. It is a very logical and sequential buildup of phonics knowledge and reading ability.

Before a child can learn to read, he or she must first learn the alphabet letters, and know the sounds represented by the letters. It’s usually easier to teach some consonants and short vowels first before moving on to more complicated things such as consonant digraphs (2 consonants formed to produce one sound, such as “ch” or “ph”) and long vowels. As you can see, teaching children to read by the phonics method helps them develop phonemic awareness, and it is also a very logical and straight forward approach.

Start off by teaching your child the phonics sounds. You can choose to teach your child in alphabetic order going from A to Z, or you can teach several commonly used consonant sounds and vowels, and go from there. For example, you may start teaching your child /a/, /c/, and /t/ (slashes denote sound of the letters). Once your child has learn to quickly recognize these letters and properly sound out their sounds, you can then teach them to blend /c/, /a/, /t/ to make the words “cat”, or “tac”, […]

Developing Phonemic Awareness and Learning Reading

As more research brings to light the advantages of phonics and phonemic awareness instructions have over whole language teaching methods, more parents are becoming aware of teaching using phonics and phonemic awareness skills. Many parents today are concerned about the method that is being used to teach their children how to read, and rightfully so. The whole language method is more of a method of “word memorization”, where the child is taught to look at printed words as whole configurations, much like looking at Chinese characters.

Teaching phonemic awareness skills involves the break down of words into individual sounds (phonemes), and then joining the parts to form, or sound out the words. By contrast, whole language learning stresses the flow and meaning of the text, where “sounding out” words is not used, the words are decoded through its larger context, and word memorization plays a key role. What would you rather do, memorize hundreds or even thousands of words based on shapes, or learn a systematic way of reading?

English is not meant to be memorized as shapes and sight objects. It becomes very difficult to learn to read by memorizing and recognizing shapes. Phonics and teaching phonemic awareness skills requires you to memorize the letters and the sounds they represent, and with this method, children as young as two years old can learn to read successfully, and comprehend what they are reading. Try teaching a young child with the whole language learning method, see how successful he or she will be at memorizing shapes. Teaching by using phonics will routinely produce successful readers.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that phonics is clearly a superior method of […]