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 phonemic awareness, Bunce claims TESOL is stuck in a dated paradigm that fails many learners from non-alphabetical language groups – thus the blindspot. “Phonemic insights into the alphabetic written code are especially important for learners with established literacy in the Chinese or Japanese written script,” she claims.


The article recommends a number of activities as well as suggesting a sequence for teaching them. Importantly, she claims short bursts of phonemic awareness activities in daily English classes can be effective. These are skills every teacher of children should be familiar with.


Another article reports on the effectiveness of enhancing phonemic awareness with adult learners. The title says it all: Direct Phonemic Awareness Instruction as a Means of Improving Academic Text Comprehension for Adult Language Learners. While most of the literature on phonemic awareness, and most of what this blog focuses on, deals with young learners, explicit training is valuable with older and higher level learners as well.


The article reports on a study showing that lower level processing issues, like misunderstanding vowels, is a fundamental impediment to understanding academic English texts. In the study, not only did phonemic awareness instruction improve students’ vowel recognition in English texts, it also resulted in improved outcomes on tests requiring the ability to both understand and reconstruct academic English text. “These results,” the authors say “seem to support findings from previous research that adult ELLs’ (English Language Learners) reading skills are enhanced by direct PA (phonemic awareness) instruction.”


As has been pointed out in this blog before, well-developed phonological awareness skills are central to the ultimate achievement of fluent alphabet-scripted literacy. As the Bunce article points out, this can be accomplished with short bursts of phonemic awareness training.


That is what b4 does.




Bunce, P. (2020). Phonemic awareness: A core phonological skill in learning English. In P. Clements, A. Krause, & R. Gentry (Eds.), Teacher efficacy, learner agency. Tokyo: JALT. https://doi.org/10.37546/JALTPCP2019-37


Tweedie, Johnson, Kay and Shimoda, (2015). Direct Phonemic Awareness Instruction as a Means of Improving Academic Text Comprehension for Adult Language Learners Journal of Educational Thought. Vol. 48.

LTP300 space 2

LTP Home


ETJ Home

FETJ top

FETJ Global


Book Store

downloads top




games top

Online Games

songs top

Song Videos

YouTube top


jobs icon black

Jobs in Japan