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Empowering Teachers
 home >> Essentials for Reading Success: Components of Reading: Phonological Awareness

A Florida State University Center

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness involves the understanding that spoken language can be broken into smaller units: sentences into words, words into syllables, syllables into phonemes. Phonological awareness is a broad term that encompasses oral language skills in rhyming, alliteration, sentence segmentation, syllable blending and segmenting, onset-rime blending and segmenting, and phoneme blending and segmenting. Instruction in phonological awareness provides the foundational skills for understanding the relationship between letters and phonemes.
In typical schools, approximately 10-15 minutes per day should be dedicated to the development of phonological awareness skills in kindergarten. Schools that serve high proportions of students “at risk” for reading problems, because of poverty or lack of experience with the English language, may need to spend more time stimulating the development of phonemic awareness in order to ensure that all students make adequate progress in this area. Strong phonological awareness instruction incorporates explicit instruction, teacher modeling, guided practice, and independent practice of the skill. Phonological awareness skills progress from simple to complex by the difficulty level of the skill. At the highest, or most difficult, level of phonological awareness, which is referred to as phonemic awareness, students demonstrate the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds (phonemes) in words. While students are working toward mastery of less complex levels, they may begin to show beginning levels of skill on more complex levels.
Phonological Awareness Continuum
As was explained above, phonological awareness exists on a continuum from simple to complex. This continuum has been illustrated below through examples of tasks that require different levels of phonological awareness.