Phonemic Awareness

Explicit versus Embedded Instruction

What is Phonemic Awareness and What Role Does it Play in Reading?

Phonemic Awareness is defined as the understanding that our speech is made up of an arrangement of sounds which are called phonemes. Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound in our speech.

Phonemic Awareness is an essential stepping stone in the process of children beginning to learn how to read. Phonemic Awareness continues to be an integral part of the reading puzzle for many years to come. Children who struggle with or have not been introduced to Phonemic Awareness can continue to have difficulties throughout the educational years.
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What Is Phonemic Awareness? | Reading Lessons

Explicit Instruction

Research shows that intentional direct phonemic instruction is extremely beneficial to students. Some feel that phonemic awareness is considered a later developing skill, but the research of Chaney (1992) proves that it can begin as early as 3 years of age.

A program called Sound Foundation was used to teach 64 Pre-Kindergarten aged students phonemic awareness and their scores at the end of a 12 week program had increased by 80% compared to the increase of the 62 students in the study that did not receive explicit instruction and only increased by 18%.

A Phonemic Awareness Intervention program used with 1st grade students showed phonemic score increases on an average of 69% when tested with the Dynamic Indicators Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIEBELS).
Phoneme Fingers: A phonological awareness activity

Embedded Instruction

Some literacy experts feel that phonemic awareness can be gained through the daily interactions of students within a classroom or even as they interact with their environment.

The use of children's literature is seen by some to be sufficient enough to teach children phonemic awareness by reading a story over and over with the child until it becomes a familiar text.

A program titled "What Can You Show Us" is thought to encourage phonemic awareness through the preparation, previewing, student demonstrations and teacher application of the chosen text.

While both of these ideas seem to be a benefit to children's literature, there is no documented assessments or results from research to prove their effectiveness in regards to actual phonemic awareness improvement.
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June Allison

I am a Special Education Major at East Carolina University and will graduate with a dual licensure in Reading and Special Education. As a future teacher I look forward to being able to put all of my new learning into practice.


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