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The Sounds of Speech

The Sounds of Speech

To understand a spoken language, a child must be able to hear and distinguish the sounds that make up the language. Virtually every child raised in a normal linguistic environment can distinguish between different speech sounds in his or her native language. Almost all native English speakers can therefore hear the difference between similar English words like grow and glow. Children who are not able to hear the difference between similar-sounding words like grow and glow will be confused when these words appear in context, and their comprehension skills will suffer dramatically.

Having fun with word sounds is a great way to play and learn at the same time. Figuring out words that rhyme, coming up with words that share a beginning sound, and saying silly words all help build a child’s phonological awareness; that is, the ability to notice, think about, and play with sounds in words. These skills will be used every time a young child reads.

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For Teachers

Children must understand how speech sounds work to be ready for instruction in reading and writing. There are many activities that you can do with your students to help them increase their knowledge of speech sounds and their relationship to letters.
Hearing the difference between similar sounding words such as grow and glow is easy for most children, but not for all children. Children who unable to hear these differences will be confused when these words appear in context, and their comprehension skills will suffer dramatically.
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.
Basic listening skills and "word awareness" are critical precursors to phonological awareness. Learn the milestones for acquiring phonological skills.
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Maria Salvadore
Maria Salvadore
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