Summary & References


Phonemic awareness involves distinguishing the smallest sound-components of words. It draws on some specific skills, like segmenting and blending. Segmenting makes distinctions among the sounds that make up words; blending reassembles sounds to make words. These skills are fundamentally auditory and not visual, though visual cues can help. Phonemic awareness is different from phonics, but it serves as a gateway to phonics by enabling students to notice sounds and relationships among sounds so they can begin mapping sounds to letters.

Phonemic awareness is an important step on the journey to becoming a good reader. Parapros who are attentive to students’ strengths and needs can help those students develop phonemic awareness. Providing help is especially important for some students for whom phonemic awareness is particularly challenging.


Kilpatrick, D. A. (2016). Equipped for reading success: A comprehensive program for developing phonemic awareness and fluent word recognition. Casey & Kirsch Publishers.

Knoop-van Campen, C. A. N., Segers, E., & Verhoeven, L. (2018). How phonological awareness mediates the relation between working memory and word reading efficiency in children with dyslexia. Dyslexia, 24(2), 156–169.

Lederberg, A. R., Branum-Martin, L., Webb, M.-Y., Schick, B., Antia, S., Easterbrooks, S. R., & Connor, C. M. (2019). Modality and interrelations among language, reading, spoken phonological awareness, and fingerspelling. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 24(4), 408–423.

Miller, E. M., Lederberg, A. R., & Easterbrooks, S. R. (2013). Phonological awareness: Explicit instruction for young deaf and hard-of-hearing children. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 18(2), 206–227.