Phonological Awareness and Reading
Phonological awareness is an important determiner of success in learning to read and spell. For most children, strong readers have strong phonological awareness, and poor readers have poor phonological awareness skills. Phonological awareness skills in the preschool and kindergarten years also strongly predict how well a child will read in the school years. In addition, interventions to improve phonological awareness abilities lead to significantly improved reading abilities. Phonological awareness instruction improves reading and spelling skills, but the reverse is also true: literacy instruction improves phonological awareness skills. The relationship between phonological awareness and reading abilities changes over time. All levels of phonological awareness ability (syllable, onset-rhyme, and phoneme) contribute to reading abilities in the Kindergarten through second grade. However, beyond the second grade, phoneme-level abilities play a stronger role.
The relationship between phonological awareness and literacy is often explained in terms of its role in decoding and encoding. In reading, decoding refers to the process of relating a word's written representation to its verbal representation. Especially in the early stages of reading, decoding involves mapping letters in the word to their corresponding sounds, and then combining those sounds to form a verbal word. Encoding: a process used in spelling: is similar, although the process goes in the opposite direction, with the word's verbal representation is encoded in a written form. Again, especially in the early stages of reading, encoding involves determining the sounds in a verbal word, and then mapping those sounds onto a letter sequence in order to spell out the written word. In both encoding and decoding, phonological awareness is needed because the child must know the sounds in the words in order to relate them to the letter sounds.
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