Benefits of teaching phonological awareness
Our brains are wired to process the sounds of speech in oral language There is an area of the brain devoted to this task, which occurs unconsciously when we are listening. However, our brains aren’t pre-wired to translate the speech sounds we hear into letters. When children learn to read they must become consciously aware of phonemes, because learning to decode in English requires matching the sounds in spoken words to individual printed letters.
Phonological awareness skills are best taught in kindergarten and early Grade 1 so they can be applied to sounding out words as phonics instruction begins. Research summarized in the National Reading Panel report suggested that even very modest amounts of instruction — as little as 5 to 18 hours in total — in phonological awareness at this stage can yield significant benefits to children’s reading and spelling achievement (Ehri, 2004).