Phonemes examples and review : What is phonemic awareness and how to teach it to your kids?

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic Awareness is defined as the ability to identify, hear, and work with the smallest units of sound known as phonemes. It is NOT the same as phonological awareness, instead, it is a sub-category of phonological awareness.

For example, phonemic awareness is narrow, and deals only with phonemes and manipulating the individual sounds of words – such as /c/, /a/, and /t/ are the individual sounds that make up to form the word “cat”.

Phonological awareness on the other hand, includes the phonemic awareness ability, and it also includes the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate larger units of sound such as rimes and onsets.

Phonemic awareness can be taught very early on, and will play a critical role in helping children learn to read and spell. While it’s not set in stone on when a child can learn to read, however, I do believe that a child that can speak is a child that can learn to read.

Children as young as two years old can learn to read by developing phonemic awareness, and they can learn to read fluently. Please see a video of a 2 year old (2yr11months) reading.

Below are several of the most common phonemic awareness skills that are often practiced with students and young children:

Phonemic identity – being able to recognize common sounds in different words such as /p/ is the common sound for “pat”, “pick”, and “play”.
Phonemic isolation – being able to recognize the individual sounds of words such as /c/ is the beginning sound of “cat” and /t/ is the ending sound of “cat”.
Phoneme substitution – being able to change one word to another by substituting one phoneme. For example changing the /t/ in “cat” to /p/ now makes “cap”.
Word Segmenting – the parent says the word “lap”, and the child says the individual sounds: /l/, /a/, and /p/.
Oral blending – the parent says the individual sounds such as /r/, /e/, and /d/, and the child forms the word from the sounds to say “red”.

Studies have found that phonemic awareness is the best predictor of reading success in young children.

Research has also found that children with a high level of phonemic awareness progress with high reading and spelling achievements; however, some children with low phonemic awareness experience difficulties in learning to read and spell. Therefore, it is important for parents to help their young children develop good phonemic awareness. [1]


Editor’s Note:- We recommend Jim and Elena’s Children Learning and Reading Program as the best phonics program to develop phonemic awareness and to teach kids to read at an early age.


Being able to oral blend and segment words helps children to read and spell. According to the National Reading Panel, oral blending helps children develop reading skills where printed letters are turned into sounds which combine to form words.

Additionally, word segmenting helps children breakdown words into their individual sounds (phonemes), and helps children learn to spell unfamiliar words.

As a young child begins to develop and master phonemic awareness skills, they will discover an entirely new world in print and reading. You will open up their world to a whole new dimension of fun and silliness.

They will be able to read books that they enjoy, develop a better understanding of the world around them through printed materials, and have a whole lot of fun by making up new nonsense words through phonemic substitutions.

For example, we taught our daughter to read at a young age – when she was a little over 2 and a half years old. Before she turned three, she would run around the house saying all types of silly words using phonemic substitution. One of her favorite was substituting the letter sound /d/ in “daddy” with the letter sound /n/.

So, she would run around me in circles and repeatedly say “nanny, nanny, come do this” or “nanny, nanny, come play with me” etc… Of course, she only did this when she wanted to be silly and to make me laugh, at other times, she would of course properly refer to me as “daddy”, and not “nanny”.

She is well aware of the differences between these words and is fully capable of using phonemic substitution to change any of the letters in the words to make other words.

Have students get into table teams. The split of the mismatch condition of the novel words into the native phoneme and the non-native phoneme stimuli allowed us to track the change of impact of these words on subsequent semantic processing.

This Phoneme software programme provides a range of activities to develop children’s listening and discrimination of speech sounds. If phonemes aren’t used correctly, however, entire words can be changed, such as from ‘ship’ to ‘sheep’. The effect of phonetic production training with visual feedback on the perception and production of foreign speech sounds.

Music on radios, CDs, iPods, and rock concerts, movies on TV and DVD players, the internet, video games, new athletic and extra-curricular school activities all take time away from the boring memorization of English words.

Phonemes are tiny units of sound in speech. The study determined that phonemic awareness increased the student’s ability to spell, even at higher grade levels. However, the results are controversial due to the different methods, age of the children and stimuli used.

A primer on phonemic awareness: What it is, why it’s important, and how to teach it. School Psychology Review, 24, 443- 455.

1. Ask the reader to read the prepared text silently and think of the words to fill in the blanks. While one novel word of each pair contains the German phoneme /f/ (as in vaf), the other contains the unvoiced bilabial fricative /Φ/ (e.g. vaΦ) at the same position (note that none of the novel stimuli were German words). To summarize, once again, the above theoretical and empirical arguments taken to challenge phoneme representations are weak, and, indeed, the findings can be readily accommodated by a theory that incorporates both phonemes as well as other sublexical units of representation.

The problem, in large measure, is that people do not attend to the sounds of phonemes as they produce or listen to speech. We investigate this relearning in our current study, providing the opportunity of statistical learning as a strategy to acquire a novel, non-native contrast. The influence of identification training on identification and production of the American English mid and low vowels by native speakers of Japanese.

One of the simplest way to teach your child the alphabet is by using food. The following are some general tips to help teach phonics to your child.

This two part phoneme bundle includes a printable phoneme book for students to use as reference, with lessons, and for recording new learning as well as projectable phoneme anchor charts the teacher can use for modeling and brainstorming.

Fun With Phonemes

Using the correct form of a language is necessary to maintain the dignity of that language. Children with dyslexia often exhibit a lack of phonemic awareness: i.e., a problem with the ability to segment words into phonemes, a skill which is required to learn to read in an alphabetic system, but not required to learn to speak ( Liberman et al., 1974 ). A deficit in phonemic awareness might be responsible for difficulties in relating these units to graphemes (for a review, Melby-Lervåg et al., 2012 ).

However, the deficit in phonemic awareness is probably the consequence of a more drastic difference in the mode of speech perception.

A large array of studies has shown that dyslexic individuals have a weaker degree of CP. They show weaker accuracy in discriminating acoustic differences across phonemic boundaries but enhanced discrimination of acoustic differences within the same phoneme category, i.e. an enhanced discrimination of allophonic differences (see 21 for a meta-analysis, 29 – 34 ). Enhanced discrimination skills for intra-categorical stimuli suggest an ‘allophonic’ mode of perception in DD, i.e., the allophonic variants of the same phoneme are analyzed as distinct phonemes.

The more words a child hears, the better they will be. This same principle can be applied to reading.

Although VA span correlated with reading, no significant correlations were found between either categorical perception or phoneme awareness and VA span. If you simply set a goal for your child to read, then your child will read.

This mimics the situation of the child that hears a certain combination of sounds being repeated more often in the presence of a specific object compared with a range of other objects.  .

Phoneme Assessment Sheet By Tasha999

Social isolation and disengagement are becoming epidemic in our society and there seems to be little hope of this trend abating in the near future. 1a that restricts phonemes to the stage of word-form encoding during speech production fails to account for any effects of phonemes in speech perception and comprehension, which includes most of the evidence discussed in Parts 2 and 3. In particular, we highlight that the linguistic evidence for phonemes in Part 3 cannot be attributed solely to the production system and clearly implicates the perceptual system.

Don’t forget that something as rudimentary as the alphabet to you; is a pretty hot topic to a young child.

In our example, the receipt of the nasalized vowel æ̃ in English signals both the (plain) phoneme /æ/ and makes a downstream prediction of a following nasal segment, shown in the diagram as a lattice of phoneme possibilities /n/, /m/ (combining aspects of Church, 1987a , 1987b ; Lahiri & Reetz, 2002 ).

In other words, the mapping between phones and phonemes is required to be many-to-one rather than many-to-many The notion of biuniqueness was controversial among some pre- generative linguists and was prominently challenged by Morris Halle and Noam Chomsky in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The article provides another confirmation, recognized in research over the previous 20 25 years, of the deleterious effects on health of social isolation.

Everything You Need to Know about Phonics is available to parents.

8 Graded effects are often due to coarticulation (e.g. in American English, vowels preceding a nasal consonant may be nasalised to a varying degree, as in ham, ban; Cohn, 1993 ).

Categorical effects of segmental environment include allophonic variation (which may or may not originate in mechanical constraints on articulators), for example, English consonants /g/ and /k/ are realised as a palatalized gj before front vowels as in geese, gill or a velarized gγ before back vowels as in goose, gum (Guion, 1998 ).

Perceptual learning for speech.  So, by getting your child to read aloud whenever they are reading at home (they don’t have to be quiet so as not to disturb the rest of their class), for as long as possible, their reading skill will increase dramatically. They reported no history of oral language or reading disorder and showed a normal reading age on the Alouette Reading Test 57 (mean reading age = 10 years and 10 months, SD = 19 months).

And sadly this entire debate will cost your child dearly, in time, in enthusiasm for reading, in the love of books. For students with dyslexia, reading can be compared to juggling with many balls in the air at once, but for those teaching children with dyslexia, I think a better analogy is French braiding.

Phonics Example Words

“Fingerspelling may act as a visual phonological bridge for Deaf readers and may be used to decode English print and support the development of English vocabulary” (p. 197). Aim: To develop accurate production of identified phonemes; to improve self monitoring skills. To determine the effectiveness of learning, we employ behavioural and neurophysiological measures such as the N400m.

Many teachers ask me about guided reading in Kindergarten. Developmental dyslexia is a specific learning disability characterized by difficulties in the acquisition of low-level reading skills: i.e., accurate and/or fluent word recognition and decoding skills ( Lyon et al., 2003 ).

Most generally, knowing a word amounts to knowing the link between a sound form (aka ‘phonological form’) and a meaning, as well as morphosyntactic properties of the word, such as grammatical category, gender, and so forth.   Apart from special cases such as homonymy or polysemy, two words that are distinct in meaning differ in phonological form, with a minimal difference being exactly one phoneme within the same position in the word (e.g. /kæt/ ‘cat’ vs. /mæt/ ‘mat’).

>> Help your child develop phonemic awareness and teach your child to read today

Phonemic Awareness Research

Studies have identified phonemic awareness and letter knowledge as the two best school-entry predictors of how well children will learn to read during the first 2 years of instruction. In a review of phonemic awareness research, the National Reading Panel (NRP) identified 1,962 citations, and the results of their meta-analysis were impressive as stated in the NRP publication:-

Overall, the findings showed that teaching children to manipulate phonemes in words was highly effective under a variety of teaching conditions with a variety of learners across a range of grade and age levels and that teaching phonemic awareness to children significantly improves their reading more than instruction that lacks any attention to phonemic awareness (PA).

Specifically, the results of the experimental studies led the Panel to conclude that PA training was the cause of improvement in students’ phonemic awareness, reading, and spelling following training. The findings were replicated repeatedly across multiple experiments and thus provide converging evidence for causal claims. [1]

As can be clearly seen, teaching children phonemic awareness early on significantly improves their reading and spelling abilities. Furthermore, the NRP research stated that these beneficial effects of phonemic awareness teaching goes well beyond the end of training period. The NRP phonemic awareness research also found that the most effective teaching method was to systematically teach children to manipulate phonemes with letters, and teaching children in small groups.

Phonemic awareness (PA) teaching provides children with an essential foundation of the alphabet system, and a foundation in reading and spelling. The NRP has stated that PA instructions is a necessary instructional component within a complete reading program.

Below are two other studies done on phonemic awareness, and its effects on reading abilities. In a study involving children aged 6 to 7 years old, researchers found that the few readers at the beginning of grade one exhibited high phonemic awareness scored at least close to perfect in the vowel substitution task, compared to none in children of the same age group who could not read when they entered school. The research also stated that phonemic awareness differences before instruction predicted the accuracy of alphabetic reading and spelling at the end of grade one independent from IQ. Children with high phonemic awareness at the start of grade one had high reading and spelling achievements at the end of grade one; however, some of the children with low phonemic awareness had difficulties learning to read and spell. The study suggested that phonemic awareness is the critical variable for the progress in learning to read. [2]

Another study looked at phonemic awareness and emergent literacy skills of 42 children with an average age of 5 years and 7 months. The researchers indicated that relations between phonemic awareness and spelling skills are bidirectional where phonemic awareness improved spelling skills, and spelling influenced the growth in phonemic skills. [3]

It is clear that with the conclusions made by the National Reading Panel and other research studies on the benefits of phonemic awareness, children should be taught PA at a young age before entering school. This helps them build a strong foundation for learning to read and spell.

>> Help your child develop phonemic awareness and teach your child to read today

How to Teach Phonemic Awareness While Reading Bedtime Stories

Helping young children develop phonemic awareness early on is one of the keys for children to develop exceptional reading and writing skills once they begin attending schools. Did you know that studies have indicated that phonemic awareness is the single best predictor of reading success for young children once they begin school?

In fact, studies have found that phonemic awareness is far better than IQ at predicting the reading and spelling abilities of young children.

Most people know about phonics, and what it is; however, far fewer people know what phonemic awareness is. In short, phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and work with the phonemes. For example, /d/, /o/, and /g/, are the individual sounds of the word “dog”.

Please note, the letters enclosed in the slashes denotes the sound of the letter, and not the name of the letter. Phonemes are the smallest units of individual sounds that form a word.

Phonemic awareness is not something you’re born with, and it is an ability that’s gained through repeated exposure to listening, speaking, and reading. As parents, there are many different strategies you can use to help your children develop phonemic awareness such as playing simple word segmentation or oral blending games.

Like most parents, we (my wife and I) read bedtime stories before we put our children to sleep, and one of the best strategies that we like to use to teach phonemic awareness to our children, is to mix in word segmenting and oral blending when we read bedtime stories for our kids.

This is an exceptional method, because it doesn’t take any extra time or effort, since reading bedtime stories is something you already do. So, here’s how to go about it.

Let’s say that you’re reading a nursery rhyme “Jack and Jill”:

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.

Instead of reading each word straight through the rhyme, you can randomly mix in oral blending on various words in the rhyme. Please note: instead of using slashes “/” to denote phonemes, we’ll simply use hyphens to make it easier to read. So, let’s assume that your child is very young, perhaps 2, 3, or 4 years old, and you want to start helping them develop some phonemic awareness.

You can read Jack and Jill like so:

J-ack and J-ill went up the h-ill
To fetch a p-ail of water.
J-ack fell down and broke his crown
And J-ill came tumbling after.

As you can see, when you read the rhyme, you simply make an effort to separate several of the first letters sounds from the words, such as /J/ from “ack”, and /J/ from “ill”. As your child begins to grasp the concept of individual sounds making up words, you can slowly increase the difficulty by breaking down each word further. For example:

Jack
J-ack
J-a-ck

Repeated exposure of this type of word segmenting and oral blending will slowly help your child develop a sense and an understanding that each word is made up of individual sounds – in other words, you are teaching phonemic awareness to your children during bedtime stories without them even knowing that they are being taught to!

>> Teach your child to read today using a step-by-step, proven method for teaching young children to read

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