Arkansas State Personnel Development Grant

1401 W. Capital Ave.
Suite #450
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (501) 319-7333
Fax: (501) 379-8387

Phonological Awareness

The most effective intervention in phonological and phonemic awareness includes systematic and explicit instruction in phonemic awareness using research-based programs that adhere to the following continuum of phonological awareness provided in the NRP report:


  • Rhyme/alliteration

  • Sentence segmentation

  • Syllable blending and segmentation

  • Onset-rime blending and segmentation

  • Phoneme blending, segmenting, and manipulation


Intervention is only effective when it meets the needs of the learner where they fall on the continuum. If the learner is at the lower levels of the continuum, accelerated instruction should quickly move them to the level of phonemic awareness. Research clearly indicates the importance of teaching only one or two phonemic awareness skills at a time. Blending and segmenting are critical phonemic awareness skills and must be included daily.


To ensure that instruction is explicit and systematic, schools are advised to adopt a systematic and explicit phonemic awareness intervention program that reflects scientifically based reading research. To ensure that the program is systematic and explicit, it should be reviewed using recognized criteria such as A Consumer’s Guide to Evaluating a Core Reading Program Grades K-3: A Critical Elements Analysis by Deborah C. Simmons, Ph. D. and Edward J. Kame’enui, Ph. D.


It is critical that the teacher use explicit language in phonemic awareness lessons. One example of language is, “Segmenting the word can help you when you are writing an unknown word. Segment the word and listen carefully for all of the sounds. You will know that you must record at least one letter for every sound you hear.” An example heard often in reading is, “When you come to a word you don’t know, try saying the sounds for all of the letters. Blend them together and see if it is a word you know that makes sense in the sentence.”


In addition to the explicit phonemic awareness lessons, children need to use phonemic awareness skills to blend sounds together to read during familiar reading, shared reading, phonics lessons and guided reading. Children independently practice reading and writing during literacy block activities. Children are taught to apply phonemic awareness segmenting skills during small group writing instruction and independent writing.


In daily assisted writing lessons, teachers model the application of phonemic awareness skills in spelling unknown words. The assisted writing lesson is followed by independent writing in which the children independently use their segmenting skills to spell unknown words. The assisted writing lessons also provide children practice in composing a sentence and holding the sentence in phonological memory in order to record it.

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