What is phonological awareness?

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    Phonological awareness is vital for excellent reading skills. But what is phonological awareness precisely? Let's discuss.

    What is phonological awareness?

    A high level of phonological awareness is a good predictor that a child won’t have issues with spoken words. From the first sound they make, babies are already developing phonological awareness. However, some children can pick up rhyming words or sound repetitions easily, while others struggle. Therefore, they need help with developing these skills.

    Many parents and teachers look for practical ways to assist their kids in achieving literacy skills using principles of phonological awareness. That’s why we’ll discuss this concept further and introduce ways you can promote phonological awareness in early childhood.

    How does phonological awareness work?

    You might think that reading skills first start with children sounding out letters. However, they lay down the foundation for reading long before understanding individual sounds or words.

    For example, phonological awareness allows children to notice different sound repetitions, count the number of syllables in a word, and pick words out of a rhyme. Before they learn about consonants or receive their first reading instructions, preschoolers sing, listen to stories, and even make up their own words.

    It’s vital to differentiate phonological from phonemic awareness. The terms are often used to describe the same idea. However, phonemic awareness is only one part of phonological awareness.

    It represents the ability to notice spoken words’ sounds (individual phonemes). Furthermore, phonemic awareness includes the ability to blend sounds into words. But it also deals with substituting and deleting sounds in speech.

    Finally, it’s essential to differentiate phonological awareness from phonics and phonetics. Phonics is a letter-sound instruction method, whereas phonetics is a linguistic discipline that studies sound in speech.

    What are the signs that somebody is struggling with phonological awareness?

    Naturally, not every child develops phonological awareness skills at the same rate. However, it’s vital to pay attention to telltale signs that they might have issues with reading.

    The inability to learn nursery rhymes or notice the repetitive sound is a red flag for preschoolers. First-grade kids who can’t identify the first sounds they hear in a word or can’t come up with rhyming words may also have issues with phonological awareness.

    The difficulties poor phonological awareness creates

    Difficulties with phonological awareness can lead to different speech disorders in children. If not corrected, these struggles can lead to frustration with the inability to differentiate sounds in speech.

    But what are some of the common difficulties created by poor phonological awareness?

    • The child may have a hard time discriminating between different sounds.

    • They may have unclear speech.

    • A child may need a lot more time to produce speech.

    • Frequent miscommunication is expected as some words the child says sound similar.

    • The child has difficulties with reading and literacy skills.

    However, issues with phonological awareness can lead to behavioral and mental problems. Children may become frustrated and develop low self-esteem. They may also feel isolated and have a more challenging time making friends.

    Tips to develop phonological awareness skills

    Teaching children how to read correctly is a vital life skill. Often, that also means helping them work on their phonological awareness skills. Here are a few ways parents and teachers can help kids who struggle to overcome challenges.

    Use text to speech software

    Text to speech technology is, first and foremost, an assistive tool. It can help educators by providing uniform and repetitive pronunciations of specific words.

    Also, text to speech platforms like Speechify offer users many different natural-sounding voices, and you can choose the pitch, volume, and speed, which can be very helpful.

    Engage in speech therapy

    Speech therapy is incredibly important for the development of phonological awareness. It’s a treatment that helps people improve their voice and sound production and overcome speech disorders.

    One of the best aspects of speech therapy is that therapists can adjust the treatment to fit the needs of the individual.

    Multi-modal instruction

    The multi-modal approach works well when planning small-group instruction for children with phonological awareness issues. This method typically involves using different tools and practices to achieve results.

    For example, you can use toys like cars or rattles to create different sounds and use images and mouth movements to hold students’ attention.

    Regular practice

    Like with any skill, phonological awareness takes practice. Of course, that doesn’t mean spending all day in speech therapy. Consistency is essential; even 15 minutes per day over months can make a significant difference in the long run.

    Use Speechify to improve phonological awareness

    If you’re looking for reliable and easy-to-use text to speech software, Speechify is a fantastic option. The initial idea behind Speechify was to develop a powerful tool to help learners with disabilities like dyslexia and ADHD read more efficiently as well as process what they are reading. Speechify offers over 30 natural-sounding male and female voices in the English language. They also have options for Spanish, French, Japanese, Hindi, Arabic, and more.

    The platform can be an excellent tool for structured literacy instruction and phonemic awareness activities. You use Speechify online, as a Chrome extension, or as an Android and iOS app. Try Speechify for free today and make the most of this text to speech platform.

    FAQ

    What is the meaning of phonological awareness?

    The simplest way to define phonological awareness is as a foundation for developing language skills. However, it includes several skills that help young children learn new words.

    What are the 4 phonological awareness skills?

    The 4 phonological awareness skills include word awareness, syllable awareness, onset-rime awareness, and phonemic awareness.

    What is the relationship between phonological awareness and reading?

    Phonological awareness skills are vital for reading success. It sets the stage for word decoding and blending, leading to literacy skills.

    What is a good way to help kids with phonological awareness?

    Parents and teachers can help kids who struggle with phonological awareness. For example, they can prompt them to identify the beginning sounds of words or teach them rhyming words. You can find inspiration for other phonological awareness activities from online resources like Reading Rockets.

    Is phonological awareness the same as phonemic awareness?

    Phonological and phonemic awareness skills are different. Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate whole words and sentences. On the other hand, phonemic awareness is the ability to single out speech sounds in words. It also includes segmenting words.

    What is a phoneme level?

    A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound. Phonemic awareness is comprised of five levels, including phoneme segmentation, blending and splitting, rhyming and alliteration, contrasting and comparing, and phoneme manipulation.

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

    Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify

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