Why Phonemic Awareness is Important for Learning a Language?


August 8, 2023

Home » Why Phonemic Awareness is Important for Learning a Language?
what is phonemic awareness

There are numerous skills that children desire to expand before learning to read and write. Children need to be aware of how sounds work and the way those relate to phrases earlier than they can fully broaden their analyzing and writing skills.

Taking part in more than a few books allows to broaden children’s vocabulary, sparks a hobby in print, supports comprehension, and develops an enthusiasm to have a pass at writing, as well as helping with their literacy capabilities. Phonemic awareness is important if a child is to learn these competencies.

What Is Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is a foundation for all other literacy skills for a child’s development, especially in early childhood. It helps them to understand how the sounds of language come together to form words and sentences with greater accuracy and fluency. It also helps them to learn how to spell and read, as well as develop their vocabulary and increase their confidence.

Phonemic awareness comprises two major components: phonic sound and phoneme identity. Phonic sound includes the ability to identify speech sounds, while phoneme identity includes being able to accurately represent a word in writing. 

Many people often think that phonemic awareness is the concept of phonics. Because of this, many times phonemic awareness is left out of instructions and the main focus is shifted in detailing of phonics. And this is the most common reason children struggle with reading. Let us understand the core difference between phonemic awareness and phonological skill.

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What Is The Difference Between Phonemic Awareness Skill And Phonological Skill? 

Phonemic awareness is similar, but no longer the same. Phonological skill focuses on how sounds appear in writing, whilst phonemic awareness understands that every word is made up of a chain of sounds. Therefore, most phonological practice is written, and maximum phonemic awareness classes are oral.

In simple words, Phonemic Awareness is the skill to observe, recognize, and manipulate individual sounds in language. The tasks include classifying discrete sounds, segmenting sounds, blending sounds, and manipulating individual sounds. Phonological awareness is the ability to distinguish that words are made up of several different sounds. This comprises identifying individual words in a sentence, distinguishing syllables, rhyming, and alliteration.

DEFINITION Phonological awareness is the ability to notice and play with the sounds of words. Phonemic Awareness is the ability to notice and play with individual sounds called phonemes.
RECOGNITION Syllables, rhyming, and alliteration Segmenting, blending, and manipulating sounds.
  • identifying words in a sentence
  • identifying and generating rhymes
  • Splitting and blending syllables.
  • Blending sounds
  • Segmenting sounds
  • Adding sounds
  • Deleting sounds
  • Substituting sounds.
EMPHASIS ON It focuses on sounds and not written letters. Phonological awareness is the base for all other reading skills. It is a subset of phonological awareness and the best early predictors of reading success
EXAMPLE Hearing that ostrich is a word Hearing the individual sounds (phonemes) – /o/ /s/ /tr/ /i/ /ch/
  Ostrich starts with o Blending sounds like ch, tr


Four Important Levels of Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is achieved when a child absorbs the following levels of phonemic cognition. There are 4 important levels of phonemic awareness – 

  • Phoneme segmentation: It is a subset of phonological awareness in which listeners are able to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes, the unit that helps to differentiate sounds. 
  • Phoneme blending and splitting: Blending is a skill required for reading and splitting is the skills needed for writing. Blending includes merging the phonemes and segment is the process of splitting words up into their phonemes.
  • Phoneme comparing and contrasting: Phonemic contrast refers to a minimal phonetic difference, minor differences in speech sounds that make a difference in how the sound is perceived by listeners, and can therefore lead to different mental lexical entries for words.
  • Phoneme manipulation: Phoneme segmentation is the ability to break a word into individual sounds. Phoneme manipulation is the ability to modify, change, or move the individual sounds in a word.

Why Is Phonemic Awareness Important?  

Phonemic awareness is required by readers to notice how letters represent sounds whilst giving the readers a way to approach sounding out and reading new words. It is also beneficial for readers to understand the alphabetic principle which is that the letters in words are system represented by the sounds. 

We are familiar that the words comprise discrete sounds and the sounds can be changed, making it essential for improvising learning to read and spell. Children should comprehend that the phonemes are the smallest unit of language that is used to make words. The phonemes are represented using graphemes while writing. It is an essential skill for the children to break the words into individual sounds and put them collectively again. They can also adapt them to form new phrases of those sounds.

How Phonemic Awareness is related to Reading and Spelling?

With a stronger understanding of the different phonemes that make up words, children have a better grasp on how to manipulate them for reading, writing and spelling. Children need to acquire the following skills to attain more specialized abilities like recognizing a complete word or reading and writing of comprehension. 

  • Phonemic awareness: This is the skill to recognize and regulate the various separate sounds found in spoken words.
  • Phonics: the skill of utilizing knowledge of letter-sound correlations to decode words.
  • Fluency: rapid and accurate reading. When learning to read, it’s crucial to have spontaneous, precise, and speedy reading abilities.
  • Vocabulary: understanding the definitions of numerous terms as well as the principles of written language.

A child who has difficulties in any of the above skills struggles to read and spell words in a flow.

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Some Activities to Support Phonemic Awareness

Games and activities can be useful for supporting phonemic awareness. These can make understanding quite easier for the children.

  • Instructional activity – Ask the child “Can you find d-es-k?” and “Can you find your p-e-n?” And many such words that the child uses in day-to-day lives whether in the classrooms or outdoors.
  • Tap your feet – Children should tap their feet if they hear a particular sound in a word. For example, if they hear the sound of /i/ in a word like – fit, grip, clips, or so, then they should tap their feet.
  • Substitute sounds- Ask the children to substitute the sounds of small words with other sounds. For example – rat and change r to c– cat. Play and change pl to cl – clay.
  • Hop a little – Show some pictures to the children and ask them to hop as per the number of sounds in the word. For example – show them the sun and they may hop 3 times as they hear 3 sounds s-u-n (3 phonemes). Show them a frog and the child again hop three times for 3 sounds – fr-o-g.

Make the learning fun for the children and they would grasp it thoroughly.

Final Words

Phonemic awareness is an important component of spoken language and literacy development. Reading is something that children do every day, directly or indirectly. Reading school books, magazines, comics, lessons, sign boards and so much more. To know the right spelling of the word and understand it thoroughly, one must be familiar with how the sound works. It is a vast yet an easy and suave concept to understand and is beneficial in reading and understanding. 


  • Barr, R., Kamil, M., Mosenthal, P., & Pearson, P. D. (1991). Handbook of Reading Research, Volume 2. Https://Www.Researchgate.Net/Publication/331634263_Handbook_of_Reading_Research_Volume_2. Retrieved January 14, 1991, from https://www.routledge.com/Handbook-of-Reading-Research-Volume-II-1st-Edition/
  • Blachman, B. A., Ball, E., & Black, R. (2000). Road to the Code: A Phonological Awareness Program for Young Children. Paul H. Brookes.
  • Simmons, D. C., & Kameenui, E. J. (1998). What Reading Research Tells Us About Children With Diverse Learning Needs: Bases and Basics (The LEA Series on Special Education and Disability). Routledge.
  • Talbot, C. (2022, June 15). The Importance of Phonemic Awareness: Teaching Strategies. The Hub | High Speed Training. https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/hub/phonemic-awareness-teaching-strategies/


Wisdomnest is an online Montessori community for parents, teachers, and learners. Join us to discover resources, connect with others, and explore Montessori education.


Wisdomnest is an online Montessori community for parents, teachers, and learners. Join us to discover resources, connect with others, and explore Montessori education.

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