Phonological and Phonemic Awareness

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate the sounds of language. When someone finds it hard to work with sounds and link them to letter symbols, this is often a phonological difficulty.

Phonemic Awareness

An important phonological skill is called phonemic awareness. It is the first step in learning to use phonics. When a child sounds out the letters of a word and blends them together, they are using phonemic awareness. A child without phonemic awareness will not be able to separate the sounds. They have to be taught how to hear and separate each phoneme. For a child to succeed with phonics then they need good phonemic awareness.​​​​​​​

Phonological Difficulties

1. Manipulating sounds in your head

Remove 'edge' from 'sledge'. What is left? (sl)

Swap the first sound in 'cat' to 'h'. What word is made? (hat)

Change the middle vowel sound in 'hat' to 'o'. What does the word become? (hot)

Switch the final letter of 'hot' with 'p'. What is the word now? (hop)

A child with a phonological difficulty is likely to find these activities difficult.

2. Sound Discrimination

Discriminating between the short vowel sounds in the middle of words causes difficulty, e.g. 'sit' and 'set'.

3. Rhyming

Rhyming, e.g. hop, stop, drop, flop, is a phonological skill that some children with dyslexia have difficulty with.

4. Syllables

Identifying the different chunks of sounds in a word may be difficult, e.g. 'potato' has three syllables po-ta-to. A syllable may be missed out or the order of the syllables might be mixed up.​​​​​​​

5. Blending sounds together

Blending individual sounds into a whole word, e.g. sh-e-l-f into shelf can manifest as several different difficulties.

Missing out or forgetting one of the sounds, e.g. bend as bed

Getting the vowel wrong, e.g. help as halp

Mixing up the sequence of letters, e.g. their as thire

6. Mixing up sounds

Words that sound similar may become mixed up.

The child may know what they are trying to say but when they say the word it comes out wrong.

‘Pacific’ instead of ‘Specific.’

‘Probably’ instead of ‘Properly,’