Reading and Development
Learning to Read
· Define phonemic awareness;
· Differentiate phonemic awareness from phonological awareness;
· Identify different activities and strategies to develop emergent learners’ phonemic awareness.
|What is Phonemic Awareness?
Phonemic Awareness is an important readiness skill. It deals with the structure of sounds and words. It is the understanding that words are made up of sounds which can be assembled in different ways to make different words. Once a child has phonemic awareness, they are aware that sounds are like building blocks that can be used to build all the different words. Children build phonemic awareness and other readiness skills by practicing nursery rhymes and playing sound and word games. Common exercises to develop phonemic awareness include games with rhymed words, games based on recognizing initial consonants. Children must understand that words are made up of speech sounds, or phonemes and letter symbols or graphemes. Phonemic Awareness further refers to the ability to segment, blend, and manipulate these units of sounds (phonemes).
· student with phonemic awareness hears three sounds in the word bat: /b/, /a/, and /t/.
Phonemic awareness is the understanding that words are made up of phonemes or individual units of sound that influence the meaning of the word.
· the word “drum” is made up of four individual phonemes: /d/ /r/ /u/ /m/.
· If you change one of these notice how the meaning of the word changes. When /d/ is replaced by /st/ you have “strum”, a verb meaning to run an object (usually one’s fingers) across an object that makes sound. This is very different than “drum”.
Phonemic awareness is not only the recognition that words are made up of small sound units it is also the ability to break down, manipulate and blend phonemes. A reader needs to be able to apply her understanding of phonemes in order to begin learning to read. She must be taught to transfer her knowledge of phonemes used in oral language to written language.
Phonemic awareness also involves an understanding of the ways that sounds function in words; it deals with only one aspect of sound: the phoneme - the smallest unit of sound in a language that holds meaning. Almost all words are made up of a number of phonemes blended together.
· Consider the word “ball”. It is made up of three phonemes: /b/ /aw/ /l/ . Each of its sounds affects the meaning.
· Take away the /b/ sound and replace it with /w/ and you have an entirely different word. Change the /aw/ for an /e/ sound and again the meaning changes.
As children develop phonemic awareness, they become interested in how words are printed. Reading aloud to children and allowing children to follow through would help develop their understanding of print concept. This interest fuels for children’s curiosity to learning the alphabet and phonics.How is phonemic awareness different from phonological awareness?
Phonemic awareness is just one aspect of phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness is the only aspect of reading that is essential for children to develop before they can begin learning to read. Based in oral language, phonemic awareness serves as not only the foundation for reading; it is also the strongest indicator of a child’s potential for learning to read. A reader with strong phonemic awareness will demonstrate the ability to hear rhyme and alliteration (the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of several different words used in a sentence or paragraph), find the different sound in a set of words (ie. “bat”, “ball”, “wet”) and blend and segment phonemes.
While phonological awareness encompasses a child’s ability to recognize the many ways sounds function in words. It is the understanding of the minutest sound units in words. Though there is a distinction between phonological awareness and phonemic awareness the two terms are often used interchangeably. For the most part both are used to refer to what is technically phonological awareness. The more common term used to encompass both skill sets is phonemic awareness.
What is the significance of phonemic awareness in reading?
Phonemic awareness is the single strongest indicator for a child’s success at learning to read. This is precisely the very reason why phonemic awareness is a necessary requisite to reading and more so, with the following reasons:
· helps children realize that words, regardless of their form (oral or print), are made up of sounds;
· allows young readers to build another important element of reading: phonics;
· creates a bridge between spoken and written language.
· helps children increase their abilities to decode and comprehend what they are reading.
At-risk readers should receive more intensive phonemic awareness instruction than their non-disabled peers. It goes without saying that phonemic awareness should be a priority in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and early first grade reading instruction.
There are three main aspects of phonemic awareness:
2. Rhymes; and
3. Beginning sounds.
Children need to be able to identify and manipulate these elements in order to begin reading. There are several ways that they can be taught to apply these elements to the words they use in spoken and eventually print language. To help children develop skills for working with syllables, adults can teach them to segment syllables by tapping or clapping and counting the sounds in a word. Rhyming and its companion alliteration (repetition of same beginning sounds in a series of words) are developed through categorization, identification and deletion. Categorization involves recognizing differences in sounds in a series of words.
You may ask the child to:
· Examine these words: “bat”, “but” and “hut” to examine. He would need to categorize these words into two collections of similar words (those beginning with a /b/ sound and those ending with /ut/). Which words sound the same?
· Do deletions. Deletion allows children to “play” with words to see how they change when a phoneme is deleted. Consider what happens when /d/ is removed from the word “drum”. It has an entirely different meaning.
What should be taught first, the vowels or the consonants?
Traditionally, learners have been taught consonants before vowels. However, every word and syllable must contain a vowel; therefore it is very important to consider that phoneme instruction should begin with the 5 short vowels ( a, e. i, o, u) which are among the most commonly used English phonemes.
For Long vowels “say their names” so students generally find them easier to remember and master.
As for consonant phonemes, there are some characteristics to consider when planning instructional programs. The ability to hear phonemes and articulate them in speech are two different skills. If children hear and learn the more challenging speech phonemes, even if they cannot pronounce them properly.
Consonants can be voiced or voiceless (breath). The mouth moves the same way for production of the following pairs of phonemes.
Teaching students to feel the vibrations in their vocal cords often helps them to distinguish
between these phoneme pairs. Certain consonants have a significantly higher frequency of occurrence. S, t, and r are the most common (with s and r being among the hardest phonemes to articulate). If we look at all phonemes, o, s, t, a, r, and e appear in 50 percent of English words. These, along with n, i, l, u, c, and p, occur in 80 percent of English words. However, since spelling patterns, word length, and word utility are far more important to beginning readers, frequency of occurrence should not be overvalued. Consonant reliability is more important to consider. Consistent consonant phonemes are: b, d, f, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q (/kw/), r, v, z. Troublesome phonemes are: c sounds like /s/ and g sounds like /j/ when they come before e, i, or y, but c usually makes the /k/ sound; c, w, s, and t when followed by h form digraph phonemes (chip, when, she, that); s often sounds like /z/ in final positions (was, boxes). These variability issues should not be taught. Students learn these as reading proficiency increases.What are the six levels of Phonemic Awareness?
1. Phoneme Isolation;
2. Phoneme Identity;
3. Phoneme categorization;
4. Phoneme segmentation;
5. Phoneme blending;
6. Phoneme manipulation.
1. Phoneme Isolation
This requires recognizing individual sounds in words. Phoneme Isolation is the first level of phonemic awareness. This requires recognition of individual sounds in words such as the:
• Initial sound;
• Final sound.
What is the initial sound in sun?
What is the final sound in drum?
2. Phoneme identity
Phoneme identity is the second level of phonemic awareness. This is about recognizing the common sound in different words. It is identifying which sounds are the same in a given set of words.
Which are the same in these words?
bag, bed, bird, box
3. Phoneme categorization
This is recognizing the word with the different sound in a group of three or four words. Phoneme Categorization is the third level of phonemic awareness. This is about recognizing the word with different sound in a group of three or four words.
Example: Which word does not belong?
4. Phoneme segmentation
This is breaking a word into its sounds by tapping out or counting the sounds. How Phoneme Segmentation is the fourth level of phonemic awareness. This is about breaking a word into its sounds by tapping out or counting the sounds.
How many sounds (phonemes) do you hear in bell?
• bell has three sounds /b/ /e/ /l/ /l/
• mat has three sounds /m/ /a/ /t/
5. Phoneme blending
This is listening to a group of separately spoken sounds and combining them to form a recognizable word. Phoneme blending is the fifth level of phonemic awareness. This is about listening to a group of separately spoken sounds and combining them to form a recognizable word.
• /h/ /a/ /t/ is hat
• /m/ /a/ /t/ is mat
• /f/ /a/ /t/ is fat
What word is /h/ /a/ /t/ ?
What word is /m/ /a/ /t/ ?
6. Phoneme manipulation
a. Stating the word that remains when a specified phoneme is removed.
What is smile without the s? (mile)
b. Stating the word that is formed when a specified phoneme is added.
Some activities to develop phonemic awareness
Activity 1 – Word Beginning/Sound Song
This is an engaging activity that increases the energy level of the classroom when learning the initial sounds.
Apple starts with /a/, /a/, /a/, /a/, /a/, /a/--/a/, /a/, /a/
Apple starts with /a/, /a/, /a/
Other words do too!
It has to start with /a/, /a/, /a/, /a/, /a/, /a/--/a/, /a/, /a/
It has to start with /a/, /a/, /a/
The next word comes from YOU!
The ‘A’ should sound as /a/ sound in apple. (Encourage the learners to participate and allow them to sing a verse to keep the song going by adding more words that begin with /a/ .)
Activity 2 – Sound Block
This activity helps the learners master the sound and symbols of the letters in the alphabet.
1. Give learners a block/card with sounds and symbols.
2. Say the sound.
3. Let the learners put a marker on the corresponding sound in the block or card.
Activity 3: Clapping and Tapping
One of the easiest ways to help children realize that words are made up of several sounds and syllables is to allow them to “break up” words by clapping or tapping out their syllables. Tapping can be performed with fingers, hands or an object such as a stick. When first introducing this concept, adults should model clapping or tapping.
For example, a teacher can show a child that the word “balloon” has two syllables by clapping twice while reciting the word (/ba/ -clap- /loon/ -clap-).
Activity 4: Keyword Substitution
This activity aids children in developing an understanding of the role that phonemes play in the meaning of words. When a phoneme is changed in a word, more often than not, the meaning changes. Keyword substitution activities use familiar songs as a basis for “playing” with words. Adults can take the lyrics of a familiar song and create new lyrics that substitute words with small phonemic variations.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star, (change star Mar)
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,(change high)
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
Activity 5: Picture Flashcards
How do we assess the child’s phonemic awareness?A child’s phonemic awareness is most often assessed using a rubric fitting a particular language task. Some of the most common tasks used to determine phonemic awareness are: 1) having a child create a list of rhyming words beginning with a “starter” word provided by the teacher, 2) asking a child to segment a word into its beginning, middle and end sounds and 3) having a child count the number of syllables in a word.
TIPS for Effective Phonemic Instruction
1. Teach just three letters per week.
2. Be sure that learners get to master both the sound and the name of each letter.
3. Integrate reading and writing the upper and lower case of the letters.
4. Associate the name, sound, and symbol of the letter to objects, name of persons and others that have the initial or final sound as they learn the letter/s for the day.
5. Break the alphabets into 8 groups.
6. Arrange the letters in the combination which are not similar in shape and sound.
7. Use any alphabet song and alphabet display.
8. Do not pair similar letters together.
It is easier to introduce at least 3 new letters a week. This would allow learners to learn the sound, name and shape of each letter. Teaching more than 3 letters is too overwhelming for some learners.
These are the suggested groups of letters where vowels sounds can cut across:
1. Mm Ss Ll
2. Cc Ff Hh
3. Bb Rr Gg
4. Jj Kk Pp
5. Qq Tt Vv
6. Dd Nn Xx
7. Ww Yy Zz
Suggested budget of work in teaching letter name and sound
(mouse over each letter to produce the sound)
Other suggested activities in teaching the Consonant Sound: Lesson Sequence
1. Introduce a story, a poem, or a song where most of the words start with a target consonant.Sing the song “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”
2. Present words that start with a single consonant, so that learners will not be confused of the sound.
a. Introduce the consonant sounds
i) The name of the picture starts with letter B.
ii) Let us sound it. /b/
iii) Let us say the name of the pictures.
iv) Sound the B at the beginning:
v) It is very important that teachers should consider teaching a single consonant word so that learners will not be confused of the different sounds.
vi) Bag, balloon, ball, bed, bird ……
b. Review the letter form
· Let’s write (on the air, on the blackboard, on paper) the big B.
c. Exercises/ Drill
d. Name all the pictures. Circle the picture which name starts in B
e. Name each picture. Write the ending letter of its name
f. Name each picture. Circle the ending sound of its name
g. Name each picture. Circle the beginning sound of its name
h. Name the picture. Complete its name with the beginning and ending letters
i. To end your daily phonemic instruction, your learners should come up with a developmental and personalized “My Alphabet Book” where they write and draw objects with an initial sound of the letter taught for the day. Learners can also make an alphabet chain. (Show example)
1. Ask pupils to pick one card each.
2. Have them look at their card.
3. Request children to find the upper case/lower case and key picture/word card.
4. Have them form a small group. (It should be a group of three).
1. To review the different activities, and relate them to the skills that we developed and the principles applied by filling up the chart below.
2. Use a venn diagram to compare and contrast the following:
1. Phonological Awareness
2. Phonemic Awareness
1. What other activities/strategies can you think of that would help develop children’s phonemic awareness? List down your answers then share your ideas with your co-learners.
The ultimate goal of phonemic awareness is to help the learners master the skills in phoneme manipulation and blending. Unless learners have mastered the name, sounds and symbols of all the letters in the alphabet and unless they master phoneme manipulation and blending, phonics instruction would be difficult.
In this lesson you learned about phonemic awareness and some strategies/techniques and activities that would help the young children learn to read. In the next lesson, you will discover that phonics instruction is a sequel to phonemic instruction. Keep in mind that phonemic awareness is a requisite to effective phonics instruction.
It is the smallest structural unit that distinguishes meaning.
It is the ability to distinguish the sounds, or phonemes, in spoken language as they relate to the written language.
Refers to an understanding of the sound structure of language—that is, that language is made up of words, syllables, rhymes, and sounds (phonemes).
Hill, Susan. Early Years. Developing Early Years Literacy: Assessment and Teaching. 2006
Harris et.al. Reading in the Primary School Years. 2006.