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What is phonological awareness?

Phonological awareness revers to the ability to hear and manipulate sounds. It may refer to phonemes (as in phonemic awareness), syllables, words, and sentences. If this is confusing to you, Dyslexia Help provides an example of what phonological awareness looks like at each level: phoneme, syllable, word, and sentence. As you can tell when working with phonological awareness skills, activities are not restricted to sounds (phonemes) only, which is what distinguishes it from phonemic awareness.  

Phonological Awareness vs. Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness, however, is defined as the ability to hear, recognize, and manipulate individual sounds within words. These sounds are known as phonemes. Hence, the term "phonemic awareness."


If you notice, that definition is based upon, first, hearing sounds and words. It has nothing to do with print or associating those sounds with letters. In fact, that is where phonics comes in. See how this works?

Most important to understanding this skill is remembering that it is auditory; it's focused on hearing. 

Visual References

Check out the images below! Click to access the original pages, where you can gain a wealth of additional resources and information about phonological awareness and phonemic awareness.

Materials to assess phonological awareness: 

The following sites offer free assessments for phonological awareness! Simply click on the link, print, and use immediately with your students!

The PAST Test

        This assessment is provided through Equipped for Reading Success. You can download the assessment, instructions, and other reference materials for your information. They are continually adding to this site as well, so check back for more!

Heggerty assessments 

       Choose grade-specific assessments for Kindergarten, First grade, or Second grade. For each of these grade levels, assessments are available at baseline, mid-year, and end-of-year checkpoints. This site also provides assessments for English, Spanish, and Australian! 

Materials to support phonological awareness: 

Additional resources...

Colorful Alphabets
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