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Phonological Awareness

Kindergarten and First Grade Last Updated: 8/17/2019 11:26 PM



Phonological Awareness

It is often very difficult for parents (and for teachers, too) to keep up with current educational jargon and buzz words. The term phonological awareness is a broad one. It is vital that you understand what phonological awareness is and why it is so important to reading development. Children who do not master the skills and concepts covered under phonological awareness may very well develop a reading problem. Hopefully, after reading the following information and watching the videos, you will have a better understanding of what phonological awareness is and of how you can help your child at home.


--It is important to understand that Phonological Awareness strictly involves spoken language--hearing it and speaking it. There is no print involved--no written letters or words. In the word phonological, you see phono, which means sound.


--Phonological Awareness precedes Phonics. Once students have mastered the sounds of language, then the sounds are associated with written letters or groups of letters.


--Click here to read an article from the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) that will help you understand Phonological Awareness.


--Click here to watch a YouTube video. Although it shows pre-kindergarten students, it is an excellent introduction to Phonological Awareness.


--Click here to watch another YouTube video that explains the next step in Phonological Awareness (beyond the level of onset-rime), which is Phonemic (individual sound) Awareness. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a language.


--Click here to watch a very short video that will clarify the difference between a letter (print) and a phoneme (sound).


--When you scour the Internet looking for information, activities, and resources to help you work with your child, you must be very careful. There is a lot of misinformation online, even coming from reputable educational sources and teachers! E.g., a sign of misinformation is a site that adds an -uh sound to the sound that each consonant makes -- Buh, Kuh (C), Duh, Fuh, etc.

In order to correctly produce the sounds associated with the consonant letters of the alphabet, extend your hand--fingers straight out and closed, palm down--and hold it directly under your jaw, so that your jaw cannot drop down.

--Try this with the sound of B. You will get a true b-b-b-b-b-b sound rather than the buh sound that comes out if you let your jaw drop down.

--Try it with the sound of L. Your tongue will remain curled up and touching the roof of your mouth to say l-l-l-l-l-l rather than the luh sound that comes out if you let your jaw drop down.

--Try it with the sound of M. Your lips will remain together to say m-m-m-m-m-m rather than the muh sound that comes out if you let your jaw drop down.

--Try it with the sound of R. Your lips will stay together making the r-r-r-r-r-r sound like a motor rather than the ruh sound that comes out if you let your jaw drop down.

*****Buh, Luh, Muh and Ruh are NOT the sounds associated with these letters!


--When learning sounds, it is helpful to let your student watch you produce the sound and then watch himself in a mirror. Have him describe what his mouth, tongue, and throat (voice box) are doing.


--When making the sound of L, my mouth is slighly open and my tongue is curled back touching the roof of my mouth. I can feel the vibration in my voice box.

--When making the sound of P, my lips start together and then make a little explosion of air. I can feel that air on my hand. There is no vibration in my voice box.

--By making a slight adjustment and moving the sound down into my voice box, I produce the sound of B instead of P. I no longer feel any air coming out of my mouth.

**This is the difference between unvoiced and voiced sounds. Other examples would be the sounds of F/V and S/Z. Since young children often confuse the unvoiced and voiced sounds, it is most helpful to do the above exercise with your student.


--Click here to print out a list of the 44 phonemes (sounds) in the English language.


--Click here to hear all the basic sounds associated with the alphabet letters.


--Watch the following videos to hear the sounds associated with the alphabet letters:

Click here to hear the consonant sounds.

Click here to hear the long and short vowel sounds.

--Long U actually has two different sounds: It says its name as in uniform and cute. It can also sayew/oo as in prune and tube. This can be confusing.

--Short O: You will hear variations anywhere between ah(the sound you make when the doctor wants to look down your throat) and aw(the sound you make when something is cute).


--Click here for a site (SIGHTWORDS) that has a phonemic awareness overview, games, and sound pronunciation.


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