There are so many terms that are used in education, it can definitely be overwhelming! A lot of times
they are used interchangeably (incorrectly so), and that adds to the confusion. We hear the words
phonics, phonemic awareness and phonological awareness thrown out there, but what do they
mean? Let’s dive in!
What is Phonological Awareness?
the spoken language. We must be sure that we don’t confuse that with the word auditory. When we
talk about the word auditory, that means all of the sounds that are heard. Phonological means only
the sounds of the spoken language.
When students have phonological awareness, that means that not only can they recognize different
sounds of spoken words, but they can also manipulate the sound parts of spoken words. This
includes phonemes (the individual sounds in a language), rhyming parts, alliteration, initial, medial,
final sounds as well as syllables, etc.
What is Phonemic Awareness?
Students must have a very strong understanding of the spoken language before they will ever
understand the written language. Before they can identify the letter that makes a sound, they have
to first hear the sound. It is only when they hear the sound, that they’ll be able to reproduce the
sounds that they hear, know the positions of the sounds, and then manipulate the sounds.
What is Phonics?
(spelling) later on. As students begin to grow in their understanding of phonics, they will need to
Research has shown that a child’s level of phonological awareness when they reach the end of
kindergarten is a strong predictor of their future success in reading. When they are phonologically
aware, they are positioned to become great readers. When there is a focus on phonological
awareness, we can directly prevent reading problems. If a student comes to us with a phonological
deficit, then we can definitely address it!