Phonological Awareness: What It Is & Why It's Important



In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of phonemic awareness in classroom reading instruction. If you missed that post, you can easily visit it here.


Today, I want to extend my topic a bit to share information about phonological awareness. If you fall among the majority of teachers (myself included, at one point in time) you may be surprised to learn that there is, in fact, a difference between those two topics.


Before we proceed, let's clear up a common misunderstanding: phonemic awareness and phonological awareness ARE NOT the same thing. Phonemic awareness 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." This may sound confusing, but don't miss it: Phonemic awareness actually falls under the overarching category of phonological awareness. It's one component of 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.  


Again, don't miss that our skill here is auditory; it's focused on hearing. Phonological awareness has nothing to do with print or associating those sounds with letters.