Importance of Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness is the awareness of the sound structure of a language and the ability to consciously analyze and manipulate this structure via a range of tasks, such as speech sound segmentation and blending at the word, onset-rime, syllable, and phonemic levels (ASHA, 2023). Most children begin building phonological awareness skills in preschool and kindergarten as educators begin teaching letter names, letter sounds, and letter-sound correspondence. With this foundation, children begin segmenting words into sounds and syllables, rhyming, and decoding words.

Sound familiar? Enter early literacy skills and reading instruction. However, the two are not separate processes, but rather one acquired by means of instruction through a hierarchy of learning as children progress through school. Researchers have found that assessments of phonological awareness in kindergarten can predict 2ndgrade reading outcomes. At 2ndgrade, phonological awareness loses its predictive power as it becomes so intertwined with word reading (Hogan et al, 2005). Because phonological awareness lays the groundwork for word reading that leads to language learning and comprehension, it is a critical piece of a speech-language pathologist’s role in early intervention and schools.

A speech-language pathologist’s practice covers an expansive array of topics, and some may think, “What does an SLP have to do with reading?” However, SLPs are specialized in evidence-based phonological awareness instruction and can work with a child’s team alongside general education and special education teachers to target phonological awareness.

Callie Wilmore, B.S. Graduate Clinician

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.).Phonological processing. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Retrieved March 27, 2023, from

Griffith, A. (2021, March 23).What is phonological awareness?The Daily Alphabet. Retrieved March 27, 2023, from

Hogan, T. P., Catts, H. W., & Little, T. D. (2005). The relationship between phonological awareness and reading: implications for the assessment of phonological awareness.Language, speech, and hearing services in schools,36(4), 285–293.