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Instructional Strategies for Phonological Awareness

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  • 0:04 What Is Phonological…
  • 0:58 Assessing Phonological…
  • 2:11 Phonological Awareness Tools
  • 4:42 Teaching Phonological…
  • 5:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
Phonological awareness is an important skill to learn young. This lesson will define this skill and show how to apply instructional strategies. We'll also highlight a few assessment techniques for phonological awareness skills.

What Is Phonological Awareness?

Debbie has always wanted to work with young children and teach them to read. From her own school memories, she expected that she would be helping children to work with the alphabet and sound out words. Debbie is surprised to be learning in her college studies that she will be spending a lot of time helping children build their awareness of the sounds of words.

Educating young children today involves a solid base in phonological awareness, or the ability to hear and understand words that are made up of different sounds. Phonological awareness is a broad term that includes several skills readers need to be successful, such as understanding words are made of individual sounds, or phonemes, and words contain segments or chunks of sounds that we call syllables.

Debbie wonders how she'll keep all this straight. How will she even know whether or not her students are phonologically aware? She discovers that there are ways to assess phonological awareness.

Assessing Phonological Awareness

Debbie learns that before teachers can begin instructing in phonological skills, they must assess the students to determine their level of awareness. She understands that phonological awareness is different from phonics. Phonological awareness is a skill solely related to auditory processing and does not yet use printed letters as we see in phonics. Screening a student for phonological awareness includes assessing their ability to:

  • Rhyme
  • Show understanding that speech is comprised of individual words
  • Segment words into chunks or syllables
  • Blend chunks or syllables into words
  • Identify phonemes in words
  • Segment words into onsets and rimes. Onsets involve the initial consonant sound and rimes involve the chunk that follows. For the word 'cat', /c/ is the onset and /at/ is the rime.
  • Blend onsets and rimes into words

These skills are chronologically listed. Children build one skill and understanding upon the next until they come to a solid understanding of phonological awareness. At this point, they're typically becoming phonemically aware, understanding that words are made up of different, individual sounds. They then learn to manipulate these sounds by segmenting and blending.

Phonological Awareness Tools

Debbie now understands what sort of phonological skills young children develop, but how will she be able to tell who has them and who doesn't, and how will she keep track throughout the year? Teachers can give students screenings to specifically identify which skills are present in each of the areas. Let's take a look at these tools one by one.

1. Rhyme Awareness

To test rhyme awareness, teachers say two words to a student and ask whether or not they rhyme. For example, students answer 'yes' or 'no' to bed/fed, bed/bat, hat/bat. Students are then asked to produce a rhyme for a given word: the teacher says 'pen' and asks the student for a rhyming word, like 'hen'.

2. Understanding Speech Is Comprised of Individual Words

Teachers dictate a sentence to a student who then counts the words, either in their head or using counters. If the teacher says 'I like candy,' the student then counts the number of words heard in the sentence and reports that number to the teacher.

3. Segmenting Words into Chunks or Syllables

The teacher says a word, and the student counts and reports the number of syllables. If the teacher says 'happy', the child would correctly report two syllables or chunks.

4. Blending Chunks or Syllables into Words

The teacher tells the student two syllables or chunks and asks the child to make one word. For example, if the teacher says the words 'back' and 'pack', the new word is 'backpack.' They can also use deletion testing, asking the student to remove part of the word. If the given word is 'backpack,' the teacher would ask the student to say 'backpack' without the 'pack,' resulting in the word 'back.'

5. Identifying Phonemes

The teacher says a word using the phonemes, and the student gives the word, such as h/a/t is hat. Then the game flips; the student is asked to give the phonemes for a word, such as 'cat': c/a/t.

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