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 with poorer phonemic awareness (e.g., Bus & IJzendoorn, 1999). The ability to make the connection between sounds and the corresponding letter is critical and if the reader has fuzzy representations of the sounds, reading will be adversely affected.

Not only is phonemic awareness a strong predictor of reading skills, but phonemic awareness skills can also be taught (e.g., NRP, 2000).

This is related to the importance of phonemic awareness to native-speaking children! It is much more important to second language learners because it is fundamental to listening and speaking, skills natives acquire naturally.

Teaching these skills is what we do at

Bus, A. G., & van IJzendoorn, M. H. (1999). Phonological awareness and early reading: A meta-analysis of experimental training studies. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 403.

Lundberg, I., Olofsson, Å., & Wall, S. (1980). Reading and spelling skills in the first school years predicted from phonemic awareness skills in kindergarten. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 21, 159–173.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Pub. No. 00–4754). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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