Progression of Skills in the Development of Phonological Awareness

Ability to listen

The ability to pay attention and listen carefully is fundamental to the development of phonological awareness. The first section, ‘Attention and listening’, covers this in more detail.

Awareness of rhyme

The next stage in phonological awareness is the ability to recognise words with a similar overall sound (ie. rhyming words). The use of poems and nursery rhymes, exploring and playing with rhyming patterns, and the generation of rhyming sets are all valuable word level activities.

Syllable segmentation

Syllable segmentation is the ability to divide a stream of speech sounds into syllables. At this stage the child will be able to discern that buttercup is built up from three ‘blocks’ of speech sounds (‘bu’/’ter’/’cup’). This is an essential building block in the development of spelling.

Identification and use of onset and rime in words

For children who are experiencing difficulties with phonological awareness it is important to focus on hearing and recognising onset and rime (e.g. h-at). Spelling patterns can be linked to speech sounds providing visual reinforcement but it is important for the child to focus on the auditory similarities between words.

Phoneme segmentation and deletion

The ability to identify all of the phonemes within a word is the highest level skill and in general development is linked with the acquisition of early reading skills. We need to teach children who have difficulties with phonological awareness to work out how words are changed by omitting sounds (e.g. What is cat without the c? What do you get if you omit the n sound from pine).

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Last updated: 5 November 2015

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