Difference Between Phonological Awareness and Phonemic Awareness

Key Difference – Phonological Awareness vs Phonemic Awareness
 

Phonological awareness and phonemic awareness are two concepts that are related to one another although there is a difference between these two concepts. Phonological Awareness and Phonemic Awareness refer to two skill sets. First let us define the two concepts in order to understand the key difference between them. Phonological awareness is this ability that a person has to pay attention to the various sound units when recognizing a word. On the other hand, Phonemic awareness is the ability to focus on individual sounds in spoken languages. Through this article let us attempt to gain a clear idea of the difference between phonological awareness and phonemic awareness.

What is Phonological Awareness?

Prior to an understanding of phonological awareness, it is necessary to know what is meant by phonology. Phonology refers to a study in which the focus is on how sounds in a language are organized as well as utilized. Phonological awareness is this ability that a person has to pay attention to the various sound units when recognizing a word. According to linguistics, phonological awareness includes a number of subsections such as the awareness of onset and rime, rhythm, words, syllables and also the awareness of phonemics.

As a child develops he begins to understand that language is composed of different components such as sentences. These sentences consist of words. The words can once again be separated into syllables. Other than these, the child also learns to pay attention to alliteration, rhyme, and onset-rime. Onset refers to the first consonant while rime refers to the rest of the sounds in a word.

Difference Between Phonological Awareness and Phonemic Awareness

What is Phonemic Awareness?

A phoneme is the smallest sound unit of language. It is this element that can distinguish a word from another. For example, the ‘t’ in ‘cat’, changes the word from ‘cab’. Phonemic awareness is considered a subsection of phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to focus on individual sounds in spoken languages. This is a skill that the child develops as he learns to recognize the individual sounds of a word. In this case, the child develops specific sub-skills of manipulating, blending and segmenting.

Manipulation refers to adding or removing certain sounds in a word. Blending is connecting sounds to create words. Segmenting is learning to break a word into sounds. As you can see, there is a clear difference between phonological and phonemic awareness although they are interrelated. Now let us summarize the differences as follows.

Key Difference - Phonological Awareness vs Phonemic Awareness

What is the difference between Phonological Awareness and Phonemic Awareness?

Definitions of Phonological Awareness and Phonemic Awareness:

Phonological Awareness: Phonological awareness is this ability that a person has to pay attention to the various sound units when recognizing a word.

Phonemic Awareness: Phonemic awareness is the ability to focus on individual sounds in spoken languages.

Characteristics of Phonological Awareness and Phonemic Awareness:

Skill:

Phonological Awareness: Phonological awareness is considered as the broader skill that the child develops.

Phonemic Awareness: Phonemic awareness is a sub-skill of phonological awareness.

Emphasis:

Phonological Awareness: In phonological awareness the emphasis is on onset and rime, rhythm, words, syllables, and phonemics.

Phonemic Awareness: In phonemic awareness the emphasis is on blending, manipulating and segmenting.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Hans Thoma 003” by Hans Thoma – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. [Public Domain] via Commons

2. “US Navy 090724-N-9689V-004 Royal New Zealand Navy Petty Officer Richard Boyd dances with school children during a Pacific Partnership 2009 community service project at Faleloa Primary School” by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Valcarcel  [Public Domain] via Commons