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What Is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic awareness is the understanding that spoken words are made up of individual sounds, which are called phonemes. A child who is phonemically aware is able to isolate sounds, manipulate the sounds, blend and segment the sounds into spoken and written words.

Phonemic awareness is an auditory training process. It does not involve print. Phonemic awareness is not phonics! However, in my professional practice, I try to align what I am teaching in phonemic awareness with the same scope and sequence I am explicitly, systematically teaching in phonics. In other words, the phonics lessons for the week are the same focus as the phonemic awareness lessons. If we are working on hearing and playing with digraphs in phonemic awareness, then we are also working on it in our phonics lesson when we are working with letter/sound correspondences.

This is the way I dichotomize the differences for colleagues:

Phonemic Awareness Phonics
Main focus is on phonemes / sounds Main focus is on graphemes / letters and their corresponding sounds
Deals with spoken language Deals with written language / print
Mostly auditory Both visual and auditory
Students work with manipulating sounds and sounds in words Students work with reading and writing letters according to their sounds, spelling patterns, and phonological structure


Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic Awareness