Phonemic awareness is the ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in spoken words. An example of how beginning readers show us they have phonemic awareness is combining or blending the separate sounds of a word to say the word ("/c/ /a/ /t/ - cat.").
Although phonemic awareness is a widely used term in reading, it is often misunderstood. One misunderstanding is that phonemic awareness and phonics are the same thing. Phonemic awareness is the understanding that the sounds of spoken language work together to make words. Phonics is the understanding that there is a relationship between letters and sounds through written language.
If children are to benefit from phonics instruction, they need phonemic awareness. This is because children who cannot hear and work with the phonemes of spoken words will have a difficult time learning how to relate these phonemes to letters when they see them in written words.
For more on early literacy, see our Pre-K Guide: Reading and Writing Readiness.
By: Marilyn J. Adams, Barbara Foorman, Ingvar Lundberg, and Terri Beeler (2004)
Activities that stimulate phonemic awareness in preschool and elementary school children are one sure way to get a child ready for reading! Here are eight of them from expert Marilyn Jager Adams.
By: Reading Rockets (2004)
These short video clips give you the chance to watch and learn effective phonemic awareness activities. Many of the video clips are from Reading Rockets' PBS television series Launching Young Readers.
By: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2000)
Alphabetics is a term for the letter-sound elements of learning to read, including phonemic awareness and phonics. In this summary, find out what practices for teaching alphabetics have been proven effective by research.