Florida's Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program
Emergent Literacy for VPK Instructors
Emergent Writing
The Environment
Go to Assessment
Emergent Reading - Phonological Awareness

Key Components of Phonological Awareness

Related Standards

Standard: V.A.2 - Shows age-appropriate phonological awarenes.

View Explanation of Standards

What Is It?
Phonological awareness is sensitivity to the sound structure of language. It’s the ability to recognize that spoken language can be broken into smaller units of sound, such as words, syllables, and very small segments called phonemes. Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound in language, and we usually think of a phoneme as the sound represented by a letter.

Why Is It Important?
Phonological awareness is important because it is one of the strongest predictors of later reading abilities. That is, a child with strong phonological awareness is very likely to learn to read words well, while a child with weak phonological awareness is highly likely to struggle to learn to read words. Phonological awareness is the foundation for the development of decoding skills.

How Does It Develop?
From a very young age, most children start to notice things about the way language sounds, separate from its meaning. As they engage in activities such as hearing nursery rhymes and language play, children learn to attend to the sounds of language. We hear children play with language when they sing songs like “Nanna, nanna, bo-banna, fee-fi-fo-fanna, nanna, bo-banna” (The Name Game, Shirley Ellis) or chant on the playground with their friends “bo-eee, fo-eee, clo-eee.” Children learn to manipulate sounds and learn to think about sounds in language when they play these kinds of games in the classroom and on the playground.

You can think of the term “phonological awareness” as an umbrella term that includes several different levels of ability. The development of phonological awareness begins in preschool. The development of phonological awareness proceeds from an ability to hear separately and manipulate the biggest, concrete sound sections in words (like words in a sentence, or word parts in a compound word) to an ability to hear and manipulate the smaller, more abstract sound sections of words, like syllables. Later, children will be able to distinguish the smallest sound parts, called phonemes. By the time children finish kindergarten, they should be able to blend phonemes into short words.

Checking for understanding

Checking for Understanding

  • Phonological awareness is...?
    Check Your Answer

  • Spoken language is broken down into smaller units. What are they?
    Check Your Answer

  • How do children learn to use and think about sounds in language?
    Check Your Answer

Back Next

Home  |  About  |  Site Map  |  Contact

© 2005 Florida Department of Education