Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sound structures within words. It allows an individual to recognise and work with the sounds of the spoken language. Phonological awareness includes the awareness of structure of words, syllables, onset-rime and individual phonemes.
What do difficulties with Phonological awareness commonly look like?
Although these may vary for each child, the following signs are representative of kids struggling with phonological awareness:
- Have trouble learning nursery rhymes
- Do not enjoy listening to rhyming stories or poems
- Have trouble counting out syllables in words
- Have difficulty in noticing sound repetition and alliterations
- Are unable to identify beginning sounds of words
- Have difficulty blending sounds to form words
- Usually confuse similar sounding words
- Have difficulty coming up with the rhyming words
- Are unable to understand directions and instructions
- Have difficulty learning new words
- Have trouble expressing themselves articulately
A Speech Language Pathologists usually assesses the problems a child might have with phonological awareness and draws out a well- structured intervention best suited for the child. An SLP plays a vital role in providing therapy and important language skills to a child.
An SLP’s knowledge of semantics, syntax, morphology and language development is crucial in providing the right kind of intervention to those having trouble with phonological awareness.
What can I do at home?
Teaching and exposure to a rich language environment can at times improve a child’s phonological awareness. In addition to that the following activities can be done at home to improve your child’s phonological awareness:
- Reading nursery rhymes
- Practice rhyming sounds
- Practice following steps/instructions
- Teaching sounds and phonics in a systematic sequential order i.e. beginning sounds followed by rhyming sounds and blending sounds into words)
- Get involved in language play for example sing songs and poems together
- Use apps design specifically to improve phonological awareness
- Play games that aim to improve phonological awareness in children such as making silly sentences (having words with same beginning sounds: “Eight elephants have enormous ears")