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What Is Phonemic Awareness?

  • The two best predictors of early reading success are alphabet recognition and phonemic awareness. (Adams, 1990)
  • Phonemic awareness is central in learning to read and spell. (Ehri, 1984)
  • The probability of remaining a poor reader at the end of fourth grade, given a child was a poor reader at the end of first grade, was .88....... the probability of remaining an average reader in fourth grade, given an average reading ability in first grade, was .87. (Juel, 1988)
  • The lack of phonemic awareness is the most powerful determinant of the likelihood of failure to read. (Adams, 1990)
  • Phonemic awareness is the most important core and causal factor in separating normal and disabled readers. (Adams, 1990)
  • Phonemic awareness has been shown to be a very powerful predictor of later reading achievement. In fact, it [phonemic awareness] is a better predictor than more global measures such as IQ or general language proficiency. (Griffith and Olson, 1992)
  • Phonemic awareness is the most potent predictor of success in learning to read. It is more highly related to reading than tests of general intelligence, reading readiness, and listening comprehension. (Stanovich, 1986, 1994)
  • Yes, there really is a difference in brain activation patterns between good and poor readers. We see the difference when people carry out phonologically based tasks. And that tells us that the area of difficulty - the functional disruption - in poor readers relates to phonological analysis. This suggests that we focus on phonological awareness when trying to prevent or remediate the difficulty in poor reading. (Shaywitz, 1999)
  • The most comprehensive reading program EXPLICITLY [sic] teaches about the sounds of language. It teaches children that words can be broken up into these smaller units of language, that the letters represent this unit of language - phonics. (Shaywitz, 1999)
  • ALL [sic] children can benefit from being taught directly how to break up spoken words into smaller units and how letters represent sounds. (Shaywitz, 1999)
Phonemic Awareness Instruction

(Major points from the report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction, 2000)

  • Phonemic awareness (PA) refers to the ability to focus on and manipulate phonemes in spoken words.... To be clear, phonemic awareness instruction is not synonymous with phonics instruction that entails teaching students how to use grapheme-phoneme correspondences to decode or spell words.
  • Phonemic awareness instruction is effective in teaching children to attend to and manipulate speech sounds in words. PA can be taught and is effective under a variety of teaching conditions with a variety of learners.
  • Findings show that teaching children to manipulate the sounds in language helps them learn to read.
  • PA instruction produced positive effects on both word reading and pseudoword reading, indicating that it helps children decode novel words as well as remember how to read familiar words.
  • PA instruction helped all types of children improve their reading, including normally developing readers, children at risk for future reading problems, disabled readers, preschoolers, kindergartners, 1st graders, children in 2nd through 6th grades (most of whom were disabled readers), children across various SES levels, and children learning to read in English as well as other languages.
  • PA was found to help most children learn to spell, and its effect lasted well beyond the training. However, PA was not effective for improving spelling in disabled readers. This is consistent with other research indicating that disabled readers have a difficult time learning to spell.
  • PA instruction may be [sic] most effective when children are taught to manipulate with letters, when instruction is explicitly focused on one or two types of phoneme manipulations rather than multiple types, and when children are taught in small groups.
  • PA instruction is more effective when it makes explicit how children are to apply PA skills in reading and writing.
  • PA instruction does not need to consume long periods of time. Acquiring PA skills is a means rather than an end.

Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic Awareness