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Research Report

What Teachers Need to Know and Do to Teach Letter-Sounds, Phonemic Awareness, Word Reading, and Phonics

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A hallmark of skilled reading is recognizing written words automatically from memory by sight. How beginning readers attain this skill is explained. They must acquire foundational knowledge, including phonemic segmentation, grapheme–phoneme knowledge, decoding, and spelling skills. When these skills are applied, spellings of words become bonded to pronunciations and meanings and stored in memory. Suggestions for teaching these skills are offered. These include picture mnemonics to teach letters, articulation to teach phonemic segmentation, and sound streaming to teach decoding. It is important to teach decoding with grapheme–phoneme subunits rather than syllabic units. It is important to read words in text to bond meanings to spellings in memory. It is important for beginners to read words in text aloud rather than silently. Showing students spellings of new vocabulary words when they are taught improves their memory for the words. Students progress through four alphabetic phases in acquiring these skills. Systematic phonics instruction facilitates movement through the phases.


Ehri, L. C. (2022). What Teachers Need to Know and Do to Teach Letter–Sounds, Phonemic Awareness, Word Reading, and Phonics. The Reading Teacher, 76, 5361.