What is a Phonological Awareness and how does is it important for literacy?
Phonological awareness refers to an individual’s skill or ability to recognise and manipulate sounds within a word as well as in isolation. Before a child is able to read they should have mastered a number of phonological awareness skills, increasing their likelihood of successful literacy learning.
These skills include:
- The ability to recognise words that rhyme with each other such as ‘map’ and ‘sap’
- The ability to produce words that rhyme with any given word apart from words that do not have a rhyming match. E.g. for ‘top’ they should be able to produce ‘mop’ or ‘cop’ etc.
- The ability to segment a word into its separate sounds e.g. for ‘cup’ they should be able to sound out ‘c’ ‘u’ and ‘p’.
- The ability to blend sounds together when heard separately e.g. ‘b’, ‘a’ and ‘t’ make the word ‘bat’.
- The ability to delete a sound at the beginning and at the end of a word e.g. ‘tap’ without the ‘t’ is ‘ap’ or ‘map’ without the ‘p’ is ‘ma’.
- The ability to delete a sound within a word that is in a sound cluster e.g. ‘star’ without the ‘t’ is ‘sar’.
- The ability to move sounds around within a word such as moving the ‘s’ sound from the end of ‘tars’ to the beginning to make the word ‘star.’
- Recognising the associated sound for each letter, consonant clusters such as ‘sh’ and ‘th’ as well as vowel cluster such as ‘ea’ and ‘ow’.
These skills are important before a child can successfully read as they not only need to be able to sound out the letter, but they also need to be able to differentiate which sounds have their own cluster of letters and how to be able to blend them all together to read the word fluently.
Children that have difficulty with these skills will often experience the following literacy difficulties:
- Inability to string the word together resulting in a word being read as the separate sounds e.g. ‘s’ ‘a’ ‘t’ instead of ‘sat’
- Inability to separate each sound out e.g. ‘st’ recognized as one sound therefore when spelling the word one of the letters tends to be missed e.g. ‘star’ being spelt as ‘sar’
Speech pathologists are trained to assess and target sound awareness and can significantly improve a child’s literacy skills through therapy targeted at sound awareness. Good Phonological awareness has been proven to be a strong predictor of Literacy success
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have questions about language activities, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today!