Teaching Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness shows beginning readers how to divide language orally into smaller units. This ability is developed through an understanding of rhyme, sentence and syllable segmentation as well as onset and rimes. Phonological awareness is the first skill which students need to learn even before phonemic awareness is developed. Phonological awareness should be taught in kindergarten. Like phonemic awareness, phonological awareness consists of listening activities. Phonological awareness should follow a Continuum. Rhymes should be taught first so that students learn how to match the ending sounds of words. Rhyming is usually one of the most fun phonological awareness skills to teach. That is because rhymes contain rhythm so they have a musical sound, that children love. Most children master the identification of rhymes very quickly. Sentence Segmentation should be taught next, again this activity is fun for most children and they tend to catch on quickly. Thirdly, syllables are taught, children are asked to listen and then separate words into parts and then put them back together. Finally onsets and rimes are introduced. These skills are taught in a particular order so that confusion is minimized, once these skills are taught children are ready to be introduced to phonemic awareness skills. Below I will break down the phonological awareness continuum into greater detail and give a few examples.

Rhyming--Remember those nursery rhymes you learnt as a child. They were fun but you were also learning. You were learning that words could sound alike and have rhythm. The learning of rhymes is one of the core skills of phonological awareness. Besides nursery rhymes you can find poems and books with rhymes and introduce them to children. Let them listen and clap to words that rhyme. You can also call a group of words together, for example: mat, hen, fat and have children tell you which two words rhyme. Listening is the key ingredient in phonological awareness by listening and responding children are learning how to divide the language into small units.

Sentence Segmentation--This is where children learn that a sentence is made up of different words.

For example: "I have a big red book."

Students should be aware that the sentence is made up of six different words: I/have/a/big/red/book/

You can have students clap, count or even march to the number of words in the sentence as they say it.

Syllabication--Here children are taught that one word can have several parts. For example: din/ner rab/bit. Allow children to listen as you call a word and then repeat the word and clap out the different parts of a word.

Onsets and Rimes--The onset of a word is the initial consonant sound of the word, for example: 'bag' in this case 'b' is the onset. The rime is the part with the vowel /ag/. An initial consonant blend may also be termed an onset. For example, in the word 'black' /bl/ would be the onset and /ack/ the rime. You should have children blend and then separate onsets and rimes. Here's an example: /c/ /ap/( said separately) cap(said together).

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