Are phonemic and phonological awareness the same thing?
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Are phonemic and phonological awareness the same thing?

Parents of children (and adults) with dyslexia hear the terms phonological and phonemic awareness often. But is there a difference?

But is there a difference between the terms? What do they mean and how similar are they? Below is a  break-down of phonological and phonemic awareness which will shed some light on the similarities and differences.

What is a phoneme? 

A phoneme is the smallest meaningful unit of sound in a word. Basically, this means that a phoneme is a single sound which has the power of being altered, and so can change the meaning of word. Consider the word fat. It is made up of three phonemes /f/ /a/ /t/. Now if we altered this assortment of phonemes and added /s/ between the /a/ and the /t/, then the word transforms sound and meaning. It becomes fast. In this case it even changes the way we hear the vowel sound /a/.

 What are differences between Phonemic and Phonological awareness?

What you may not realise is that phonemic awareness is a sub-skill of a more broader range of skills called phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness is only the comprehension of single sounds in words (phonemes) like/f/ /a/ /t/.

Phonological awareness encompasses far more than just the understanding of single sounds. The skills involved in phonological awareness include rhyme and rhyme recognition, breaking words down into syllables, understanding alliteration, onsets and rimes, and sentence segmentation. Even the act of listening falls under the broad umbrella of phonological awareness.

When examining a child’s phonological awareness, we are looking at a range of different decoding skills, with phonemic awareness being a single one of these.

Even though there is clear difference between the terms phonemic and phonological awareness, they are often used interchangeably, which can be confusing.

Learn more

For help or advice understanding these terms in more detail, email us or call Summit Point School on (09) 973 5354.

1 Comment

  1. Orpheus Eye says:

    That is an inspiring quote! thanks for sharing it!