Phonological and phonemic awareness are the two most basic building blocks of reading. Phonological awareness is the human brain’s sensitivity to the way sounds combine to form words, sentences, and language. Some people naturally understand phonemic awareness. Others must be taught phonological concepts to benefit from them.
Phonological awareness includes:
- Breaking sentences into words
- Breaking words into syllables
- Recognizing and producing rhyming words
- Breaking words into sounds (phonemic awareness)
Phonemic awareness is a sub-category of phonological awareness that deals exclusively with single sounds. Phonemic awareness is strictly auditory and does not include writing or reading. It is the ability to hear the sounds in words. Students who have phonemic awareness can count sounds that make up words, say the ending and beginning sounds in words, and isolate sounds in words.
Why are Phonological and Phonemic Awareness Important?
Phonological and phonemic awareness are the first skills students need in order to learn to read. Struggling readers who have not mastered an understanding of phonemic awareness will fail to keep up with their peers and will have difficulty moving on to phonics, which links sounds to letters and letter patterns. Vocabulary depth and breadth are greater in students with good phonological awareness.
How We Teach at Syllables Learning Center
At Syllables Learning Center, we know that phonological and phonemic awareness are critical in helping students master the sounds in the English language, associate sounds with letters (through phonics), and form the building blocks of reading. Following the Orton-Gillingham approach, we teach sounds systematically, according to the way the mouth forms sounds and linking to the brain’s natural wiring for speech. Our reading tutors introduce sounds in a lively, story format, keeping our students engaged and wanting more.