Here’s my Phonemic Awareness definition
PHONEMIC AWARENESS DEFINITION
(The articles that accompany my videos are not exact transcripts; some parts that cannot be explained without visuals may have been deleted, and some text that could not be included in the video may have been added.)
WHAT PHONEMIC AWARENESS IS
Phonemic Awareness is the awareness of the sounds in a language. The word phonemic means something related to sound. When people who are phonemically aware hear a word, they can say the individual sounds in the word. They can also hear individual sounds and blend them into a word.
Very young children are phonemically aware; they easily mimic sounds and words. They are so good at phonemic awareness skills that they are able to teach themselves to speak.
Once young children have mastered the sounds in their language, they start to speak in sentences. At this stage, the children’s brains stop paying attention to the individual sounds in words – because they no longer use those skills.
PEOPLE WHOSE LANGUAGE IS ALPHABETIC MUST BE PHONEMICALLY AWARE
To become literate in many languages, children never need to pay attention to individual sounds in words again. But in languages written with an alphabet, students need to be able to say the individual sounds in words – so they can represent those individual sounds in writing.
The early writers of English, designed English so that: writers said aloud the word they wanted to write, then they wrote the letter that represented the first sound in the word. Then they moved their hand to the right, said the second sound in the word, and wrote the letter that represented that sound, and so on to the end of the word.
When they got to the end of the word, they said the individual sounds again and blended them together into a word – to check they’d written the correct word.
The people who read what those writers had written just reversed the process. They started at the left, made the sound represented by the first letter, then said the sound for the second letter, and so on to the end of the word. Then they blended the sounds into the word.
This is how written English still works. Yes, there are a few glitches in the system now, but not enough to stop it working well. Being able to say the individual sounds represented by the letters in a word is still the foundation of being able to read and write English.
EVERYONE WHO CAN SPEAK WAS PHONEMICALLY AWARE AS A BABY
Students who lack the ability to hear the individual sounds, originally had this skill – otherwise they wouldn’t be able to speak! And, just as once you’ve learned to ride a bike, you can always refresh that skill – so it is with phonemic awareness.
So there’s no need to be disturbed if your child or student lacks phonemic awareness skills to start with. Students of school age and above can refresh these skills, in order to be ready to move on to learning the letters – and learn to read.
I hope you found this phonemic awareness definition useful.