Phonemic Awareness and the Alphabetic Principle

Phonemic awareness is the ability to consciously think about and analyze the sounds of one’s language. It is without a doubt one of the strongest and most well-established predictors of successful reading (e.g., Lundberg, Olofsson, & Wall, 1980). Children with strong phonemic awareness skills have been found to be superior readers compared to their peers … Read more

An Amazing Study of the Bilingual Advantage

Most English teachers know of the cognitive gains associated with bilingualism.  We love to tell our students about them. But, do you know when these improvements start to show, and what that implies? At least some of the cognitive benefits of bilingualism are attributed to a bilingual’s need to inhibit one language while using the … Read more

A Blast from the Past

  It has been almost 10 years since I published this article on Phoneme Acquisition. I thought I’d give it a second run. Title: It Starts with Phonemes Published in JALT Proceedings in 2013 http://aka-kara.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/It-Starts-with-Phonemes.pdf

MMN-P3a-LDN in the ERP waveform … ok?

  This is about electrophysiological correlates of speech perception mechanisms. Is it becoming more clear?   Well, I read through this article and will try to put it into everyday English.   It boils down to what I have been saying in this blog for a long time. Being able to distinguish the sounds of … Read more

For non-believers…

  An article for those who still don’t believe humans lose the ability to hear non-native sounds at around 1 year of age.   Distributional learning of speech sound categories is gated by sensitive periods Rebecca K. Reh, Takao K. Hensch, Janet F. Werker Cognition 2021   Perceptual attunement is when an infant’s discrimination of … Read more

Udemy coupon

This coupon offers a discount on an hour long Udemy course on Phonemic Awareness. The course has sections heavy on theory for those interested in theory, as well as loads of practice. The videos are downloadable so teachers can use them in the classroom.   This offer will run for a month from Dec 19 … Read more

Reading Depends on Speech

  It is a proven fact that young learners who progress more rapidly with reading exhibit better phonological awareness. This ability is assessed by tasks like deciding whether two words rhyme, indicating the number of syllables in words, and deciding whether two words begin, end or contain the same sound (Castles). The reason for this … Read more

Manipulating Sounds

Phonemic Awareness is composed of two elements. One is the ability to distinguish the sounds. The other is the ability to manipulate the sounds. This clip is from an Udemy course that focuses on the latter.

Just Listen

Perceiving a difference in sounds that do not exist in an L1 is a prerequisite for good pronunciation, good listening, and effective phonics in an L2.   Japanese speakers inability to understand or produce English words may be rooted in the inability to discriminate sounds perceptually.   Repeated listening to the sounds in contrast is … Read more

The Perfect Homework for Youngsters

b4 is perfect for homework. Why? It focuses on the most important thing you can teach young learners – the sounds. Why?   Before we start to speak we set the sounds in our brains. We focus on the sounds of our native language and the sounds of a 2nd language become increasingly difficult.   … Read more

Phonemic Awareness

The importance of phonemic awareness for reading an alphabetic script is well established and has been researched far more than it has for listening. This might seem odd given that phonemes are sounds so directly related to hearing. This situation exists because phonemic awareness has been investigated in the first language (L1) context. Children in … Read more

TESOL Blindspot

  I got this title from a JALT publication. The article is, Phonemic Awareness: A Core Phonological Skill in Learning English (below), which was written by Pauline Bunce. In the article, she points out that it has been shown how phonemic awareness skills are predictors of future success in reading. After discussing the importance of … Read more

Listening / Pronunciation

The perception-production link is well attested. It is almost self-evident – to me. This post will discuss recently-read articles that demonstrate the perception-production link. That is, these studies demonstrate that pronunciation can be improved by listening practice.   The first, What predicts the effectiveness of foreign language pronunciation instruction? Investigating the role of perception and … Read more

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