phonemic awareness vs phonics classes

There are five components of effective literacy instruction: phonemic awareness, Phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension, according to the National Reading Panel Report. Adding more to these five components, the NRP considered phonic instructions and phonemic awareness to be increased in primary grades of children. These two terms, Phonics and phonemic awareness, are confusing to an extent and sometimes used interchangeably. But we can’t undermine that these two components are essential for reading, but they are not the same thing.

We understand your need for clarification about the difference between phonemic awareness and Phonics. But you don’t need to worry, as the confusion is really high between these two terms. Teaching a child is a challenging task as it is a complicated endeavour to follow the terminology. The reading process involves many steps, from fluency to phonemic awareness, there are many aspects of reading that can be confusing. This blog can bring clarity between Phonics and phonemic awareness. 

What is Phonics?

Before we can really understand phonemic awareness and how it will help children with phonemic reading and writing, we need a good grasp of Phonics in the first go.

It is a way to teach children how to write and read, with the help of phonics, children can identify, hear and use different sounds that assist in distinguishing one word from another. Phonics can be defined as the relationship between sounds (phonemes) and letters (graphemes). The alphabet is at the centre of any phonics program, and the goal is for the student to know the letters of the alphabet that correspond with certain sounds. But how does it work?

Through phonics classes, children develop a profound knowledge of how to link together the symbols used to represent them (known as graphemes) with the sounds that words are made up of (known as phonemes). With consistent learning of grapheme-phoneme correspondences (or GPCs), children learn to use phonemic reading skills to decode longer and more complex words in the long run.

Now that you have enough reading skill, you can easily read the words on this page, which is probably basic nature, but think about when you were a kid learning how to read. Was it easy? Did even easy words seem to trip you up? Did you get frustrated when you came across a word you didn’t recognize in a book and had no idea how to pronounce it?

In truth, Phonics and phonemic reading have only been part of the education curriculum for a short time, and many adults today needed to be taught the handy way of identifying the correct sounds and learning the skill of blending different words together to produce words. An effective phonics program involves systematic and structured instructions that incorporate multi-sensory elements. It’s important to engage children in learning by incorporating activities and phonics games, with this, they can begin to decode and sound out new words. 

What is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic awareness can be defined as the ability to identify, hear, and manipulate the different (phonemes) in spoken words. It is a crucial pre-reading skill that helps children learn to read and spell.

Developing phonemic awareness involves being able to identify and manipulate the sounds in words, such as being able to blend sounds together to make a word or being able to segment a word into its individual sounds. For example, a child with phonemic awareness might be able to take the sounds /b/, /a/, and /t/ and blend them together to make the word “bat” or might be able to take the word “cat” and break it down into the sounds /c/, /a/, and /t/.

Phonemic awareness differs from Phonics, which involves learning the relationships between letters and sounds. While phonemic awareness is important for learning to read, it is not the same as knowing the alphabet or being able to decode words.

Teaching phonemic awareness to children can involve activities such as listening for and identifying the initial sounds in words, rhyming words, and blending and segmenting sounds to make and break down words. This can help children develop the skills they need to begin reading and spelling.

But let’s go into a bit more detail. The following are four key things that can help you to understand phonemic awareness in the easiest way:

  1. Understanding that syllables and spoken words are made up of sequences of speech sounds and developing the ability to manipulate and hear the sounds in spoken words.
  2. Learning the essential phonemic reading according to an alphabetic writing system because, without this important skill, Phonics doesn’t make sense.
  3. Learning mapping speech to print with fundamental mastering phonemic reading. If a child cannot hear that “sun” and “soon” begin with the same sound or cannot blend the sounds /sssuuunnn/ into ‘sun’, children may face difficulty in connecting every sound with correct written symbols or blending each sound to make a word.
  4. It is a strong indicator of ensuring early reading success.

Parents and educators used to think that teaching segmenting and blending was enough to provide adequate phonemic awareness instruction to children. But research shows that instruction from educators and parents plays an effective role in creating fluent and proficient readers. Talking explicitly about phoneme manipulation involves deleting, adding, and substituting sounds in words to engage students in different phonemic activities through phonics classes. During this process, students learn to make more words by manipulating individual sounds. One doesn’t need to wait to teach phonemic awareness as it transfers to reading and writing. Before children know the letters and sounds, they can engage in phonemic awareness. 

So now you know that Phonics emphasize the relationship between sounds and letters while phonemic awareness focuses only on the sound of the word. So if there is no good foundation in phonemic awareness and phonological, then it becomes really difficult for children to learn phonics skills. You can rely on iSchooling if you are looking for a reliable phonics learning spot, as we offer live phonics classes that work as an effective tool along with a multi-sensory strategy to teach children to spell and read so that they can associate each letter or letter combination with the appropriate sound and then blend the sound to form the correct words. At iSchooling, we teach children how to comprehend new words by sounding them correctly with the aim of improving and increasing their reading and spelling skills.

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