Speech Pathology News: Phonemic Awareness

At Fremantle LDC both teachers and speech pathologist work to support students’ phonological awareness skills and more specifically phonemic awareness skills.

Phonological awareness refers to knowing the language we hear can be broken into chunks of sound. The sound chunks can be syllables, rhyme and individual sounds (phonemes). The ability to hear the individual sounds is called phonemic awareness. The ability to split/segment a word into sounds is important for spelling. Being able to push/blend the sounds together is important for reading.

Some of the ways we work on phonological and phonemic awareness skills include:

  • Splitting up words into syllables (e.g. How many syllables are in the word elephant?)
  • Identifying the first, middle and final sounds in words (e.g. what is the first sound in sat?)
  • Blending sounds together to make whole words (e.g. what word does ‘s—a—t’ make?)
  • Deletion of sounds from words (e.g. what word does it make if I remove the ‘s’ from ‘sat’)
  • Manipulation of sounds in words (e.g. what word does it make if I switch the ‘s’ in ‘sat’ to ‘m’)

Children with language difficulties and Development Language Disorders can find these tasks quite challenging particularly in the early stages. How adults say the sounds to children can be really important for developing their skills. These are the rules we follow when demonstrating and doing any phonological awareness task with our students:

  1. Make long sounds continuous without adding on an ‘uh’ or other sound: f, l, m, n, r, s, v, z
  2. Make sure not to use your voice on voiceless sounds (don’t add on an ‘uh’ or other sound): p, t, k, c, h. You can place your hand on your throat when saying these sounds to make sure your voice box is not vibrating.

For more information on how to produce the sounds accurately try this website: https://www.spelfabet.com.au/2018/05/phonemes-are-sounds-and-articulatory-gestures/