When students know that spoken words are combinations of the 45 sounds of English and are able to use this knowledge to blend and segment words, they are equipped with the most foundational skills needed for reading and writing.
The understanding that spoken words are made up of sounds.
The first and most foundational of the Five Essential Skills of Reading.
Phonemic Awareness is the Foundation
Why It Matters
Phonemic awareness is an important predictor of reading ability. Many struggling readers mistakenly believe that reading at its most elemental level is about words and not sounds.
This results in students guessing randomly when reading unknown words.
Teaching Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic awareness skills can be divided into eleven building blocks. The building blocks increase in linguistic complexity, so that students add new skills step by step without large leaps. Some blocks include more than one skill.
See a complete list of Phonemic Awareness skills.
Phonemic awareness skills are auditory. They should be taught through speaking and listening, with no printed text.
A Kinesthetic Awareness of Sounds
Distinguish and Identify Sounds
Blend Words into Compound Words
One-Syllable Words Without a Consonant Blend
Blending One-Syllable Words with Only Two Phonemes from an Auditory PromptA word with two phonemes has two sounds. The words may be spelled with more than two letters. Examples: knee /n-ē/, toe /t-ō/, bee /b-ē/.
The skill of auditorily blending individual sounds into a spoken word is foundational to reading. Practicing blending two sounds into a word prepares students to blend longer words.
Blend One-Syllable CVC Words In the context of phonemic awareness skills, a CVC word is any word with a consonant sound, vowel sound, consonant sound, regardless of how those sounds are spelled. Examples: cat /k-ă-t/, fish /f-ĭ-sh/, boat /b-ō-t/.
Segmenting One-Syllable CVC Words
One-Syllable Words with a Consonant Blend
Blend Two Consonants
Many students struggle to read words with consonant blends. By practicing the skill of blending consonants auditorily in isolation, students develop a foundational skill needed to decode these words.
Blend One-Syllable Words with a Consonant Blend
Segment One-Syllable Words with a Consonant Blend
Blend Two-Syllable Words
Blending two-syllable words is more difficult than blending one-syllable words. Blending practice with two-syllable words is beneficial for beginning readers as well as for any student struggling to read longer words.
Segment Two-Syllable Words
Three- and Four-Syllable Words
Blend Three- and Four-Syllable Words
Just as reading longer words is more difficult than reading shorter words, blending them auditorily is more challenging than blending one-syllable words. Practicing blending multi-syllable words strengthens the foundational phonemic awareness skills students need to read longer words.
Segment Three- and Four-Syllable Words
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