Phonologica Awareness

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  • Topic: Phoneme, Phonology, Phonetics
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  • Published : April 2, 2011
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Phonological Awareness Explained through a Case Study

Foram Naik

Brock University

Phonological Awareness Explained Through a Case Study

Phonological awareness is the understanding that oral language can be manipulated and broken down into many smaller components (Chard & Dickson, 1999). Manipulation of sounds refers to adding, subtracting, and substituting phonemes (smaller components of words) to make different sounds. Sentences can be broken down into words, words into syllables, and syllables into smaller components (e.g., onset and rime, and individual phonemes like /f/) as illustrated in Table 1 (Goswami, 1990). Phonemic awareness is a subset of phonological awareness; it is an understanding that individual words are made up of phonemes or individual sounds and can be changed and manipulated by blending, segmenting, and substituting different letters in the word to make different sounds (Chard & Dickson, 1999). Phonological awareness and phonemic awareness differ distinctively from each other. Phonological is oral and auditory manipulation of words whereas phonemic is the manipulation of the written letters and sounds (Chard & Dickson, 1999). Manipulation of oral and written words is important for children to develop eventual fluency in reading. The lack of good quality phonological/phonemic awareness is a cause of young children developing eventual reading disability. The ability to distinguish between different phonemes as an infant is referred to as the universal phonemic sensitivity. Experiments conducted showed that this ability decreases as age increases (Werker, 2010). Therefore, it is important for children to develop their phonemic awareness at a young age.

Table 1

|Word |Syllable |Onset and rime |Phoneme | |“cat” |cat |c - at |c-a-t | |“string” |string |str - ing |s-t-r-i-n-g | |“wigwam” |Wig-wam |w – ig – w - am |w-i-g-w-a-m |

Words broken into different components

There are many young children who develop reading disabilities in Ontario. According to Esther Geva (2000), a member of the Human Development and Applied Psychology Department at the University of Toronto, 18.5% of children in Ontario have some sort of a reading disability. They can be prevented if parents and teachers test for the child’s ability to demonstrate an appreciation for rhyme and alliteration at an early age by having the child read books like Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, 1979 or the B Book by Stanley and Janice Berenstain, 1997(Chard & Dickson, 1999). These books are helpful for teachers to learn new strategies that will allow the child to develop a good understanding of different sounds and will prove beneficial in developing phonemic awareness thereby showing success in learning to read. As discussed in a lecture, The Kennewick School District organized the “Read with your Child” campaign where parents read to their children for 20 minutes every day. By doing this, the grade 3 special education students were decreased by 80%. All parents should take this as model and read to their children for at least 20 minutes every day to prevent their child from developing a reading disability in the future.

Katie’s Problem

Katie is six years old and has difficulty with transposing sounds and letters due to her lack of phonological awareness. Katie has no problem with science and mathematics, however, when it comes to language, she has difficulty reading because she is unable to combine and pronounce the sounds that are segmented into a word....
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