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What is Phonological Awareness?

Students who are phonologically aware are at a great launching point to become great readers! So what's the difference between this, phonemic awareness and phonics?

There are so many terms that are used in education, it can definitely be overwhelming! A lot of times

they are used interchangeably (incorrectly so), and that adds to the confusion. We hear the words

phonics, phonemic awareness and phonological awareness thrown out there, but what do they

mean? Let's dive in!

What is Phonological Awareness?

Phonological awareness is like an umbrella term that covers the others. It is all about the sounds of

the spoken language. We must be sure that we don't confuse that with the word auditory. When we

talk about the word auditory, that means all of the sounds that are heard. Phonological means only

the sounds of the spoken language.

Students who are phonologically aware are at a great launching point to become great readers! So what's the difference between this, phonemic awareness and phonics?

When students have phonological awareness, that means that not only can they recognize different

sounds of spoken words, but they can also manipulate the sound parts of spoken words. This

includes phonemes (the individual sounds in a language), rhyming parts, alliteration, initial, medial,

final sounds as well as syllables, etc.

What is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic awareness is a type of phonological awareness. Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound

in spoken words. They are the smallest parts of oral words. When a child shows phonemic 

awareness, they are able to not only recognize but manipulate all of the individual phonemes in a 

word. It is important to remember that this has nothing to do with letters, not directly at least. 

Phonemic awareness is something that you can do with your eyes closed. 

Students who are phonologically aware are at a great launching point to become great readers! So what's the difference between this, phonemic awareness and phonics?


Students must have a very strong understanding of the spoken language before they will ever

understand the written language. Before they can identify the letter that makes a sound, they have

to first hear the sound. It is only when they hear the sound, that they'll be able to reproduce the

sounds that they hear, know the positions of the sounds, and then manipulate the sounds.

What is Phonics?

Phonics is all about the printed language. This is when letters are introduced, and the sounds that

are represented by those letters are discussed. It is during this time that students are introduced

to the alphabetic principle. They learn that the letters stand for sounds, and they begin to recognize

letters in all of the different forms (capital, lowercase, different fonts, etc.). They also begin to

visually discriminate between letters that look similar.

Phonological Awareness


Phonics is a skill that is done with your eyes open because it deals with visual input. Phonics

instruction helps students to be able to decode (read) words. This is important for encoding

(spelling) later on.


Research has shown that a child's level of phonological awareness when they reach the end of

kindergarten is a strong predictor of their future success in reading. When they are phonologically

aware, they are positioned to become great readers. When there is a focus on phonological

awareness, we can directly prevent reading problems. If a student comes to us with a phonological

deficit, then we can definitely address it!



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Students who are phonologically aware are at a great launching point to become great readers! So what's the difference between this, phonemic awareness and phonics?

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