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What Is Phonemic Awareness?

Learn what phonemic awareness is from reading specialist Anne Glass in this Howcast video.

Transcript

Hi. my name is Anne Glass. I'm a reading and learning specialist at a private school in New York City and I work with Kindergarteners through 3rd graders on Reading, Word Study, and Writing Skills. In addition to be a reading specialist and learning specialist, I'm also a parent and today I'm going to talk to you about topics in reading. Phonological or phonemic awareness is a crucial factor which predicts how easily your child will develop early reading skills. It has to do with developing a sensitivity to the sound structure in oral language. At its most sophisticated level, it means phonemic awareness. Phonological awareness is the bigger umbrella which subsumes phonemic awareness. Phonological awareness can refer to noticing the words in a sentence, the syllables in a multi-syllabic word, and phonemic awareness is much more specific to the individual sounds in a single word. We call these individual sounds, phonemes. Phonemic awareness is something that develops over time and can, in fact, be taught and should be taught. Phonemes are the very smallest units of sound in words. For example, in the word bug, there are 3 phonemes. Bu-uh-ga. A child with sophisticated phonemic awareness would be able to substitute the bu- for ha, to get the word, hug, and she will also know that the initial sound changed, but the rest of the word didn't. When children receive explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, including rhyming games and substitution and segmenting tasks with individual phonemes, they are much more successful than their same peers who did not receive similar instruction.

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