Phonological Awareness

What are the components of phonological awareness? Phonological awareness is a broadly-defined skill that means that one can identify and manipulate units of oral language, including syllables and phonemes. We understand that words, syllables, phonemes, etc., have meaning. For example, I know that when you’ve added an -s to the word rabbit, you are talking about more than one. The -s has a meaning of plurality, even if it isn’t a word on its own.

These components are listed in order of a child’s typical development. Students are generally expected to have mastered these skills around age 7. This list does not include every single skill, but it does have the basic factors that are generally agreed to be an indicator of reading success.

1. Rhyme recognition – Does it rhyme? Can you tell me other words that rhyme with it?

2. Syllable counting – How many syllables in this word?

**PRO TIP: Are you having trouble teaching students to clap out syllables? Stop clapping! Instead, place your hand just under your chin. Say the word slowly and in an exaggerated fashion. “Spaaaa…geeeet…eeee.” How many times did your chin touch your hand? The answer is three, of course, because in order to make a vowel sound, you have to open your mouth. And no syllable in the English language comes without a vowel. You’re welcome!**

3. Initial-phoneme matching – Which words start with the same sound? What other words start with this sound? We’re talking about letters, not sounds. Remember, letters like c and s can make the same sound!

(Also, this is where we specifically introduce phonemic awareness, which is under the umbrella of phonological awareness.)

4. Initial-phoneme deletion – Say “band.” Now say it again without the /b/. I would also include medial phoneme deletion here, although that is a much harder skill: Say “brand.” Now say it again without the /b/.

5. Phoneme blending – What word am I saying here? /k/ /an/ /d/ /e_/

6. Phoneme counting – How many sounds are in the word “snow”? Three, if you’re wondering. /s/ /n/ /o_e/