The Difference Between Phonological and Phonemic Awareness

The Difference Between Phonological and Phonemic Awareness

Posted by Brainspring on 17th Jan 2019

Teachers frequently ask what the difference between phonological and phonemic awareness is. These two terms are often used interchangeably, however, there is a slight difference.

Both of these terms encompass being able to hear the sounds and patterns of language. Both refer to skills that are practiced auditorily, and print is not utilized while teaching phonological or phonemic awareness.

Phonological awareness is the broad, overarching term.

It’s the ability to hear and attend to different units of language. A student that is working on strengthening phonological awareness may be breaking apart a word into its syllables. They may be blending a word by its onset-rime. Or, they may be working on identifying the initial/final/medial sounds in words.

Phonemic awareness is one specific piece of phonological awareness.

When students are working with the individual sounds of language, they are working with fine-tuning their phonemic awareness. While working on phonemic awareness, students will most commonly work on blending individual sounds into a word, or, they will break a word down into its individual sounds.

Once students can fluidly blend sounds together (b-a-t = bat) and segment sounds in a word (bat = b-a-t) they should be ready to start a phonics program, where they will begin working with print.


To take a deeper look into how phonics ties into phonological awareness, click here.


Written by Brainspring Educator Academy


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