Phonological Instruction for Older Students

Reading experts say that students have to master phonological and phonemic awareness by the time they reach the third grade. If they are unable to do so, this will cause problems like delays in skill acquisition and poor academic performance. Supplementary resources are available for fourth graders who continue to face challenges with phonological awareness. These activities can be used before spelling and reading instruction time.

Processing Information

Phonological awareness has to do with the ability to with being able to decode the relationship between letters and sounds, which then influences a child’s capacity to learn new words, pronounce them correctly, and spell them correctly. Phonological awareness is closely tied with other speech, reading, and language acquisition skills like speech production, perception, and phonemic awareness. This is why mastering phonological awareness is considered to be very foundational and important.

Manifestations of Struggle

The teaching of phonological and phonemic awareness starts as early as a child’s toddler years. Parents who read to their children teach them about letters and sounds, and by the time the children reach preschool, they have some level of familiarity about how letters work, what each one looks like and what sound each one makes.

From preschool to third grade, reading instructors do the tedious and very-detail-oriented task for teaching phonics to children.

Those who struggle with the finer details of spoken words show symptoms of poor spelling, mispronunciation of words, difficulty with decoding words, and remembering new words. Some teachers report success with directly teaching vowels and consonants, with regular structured practice.

Some Adjustments

Teaching older students about phonological awareness requires direct instruction in syllabication and phoneme segmentation. Only after these are done can the lesson move on to reading, vocabulary, and spelling instruction. To provide further assistance, teachers can include the following adjustments:

·         When introducing new words, ask the students to watch the teacher as they say the word, then proceed to ask the student to repeat after them. Ask the student to point out any mispronunciations.

·         Spelling: segment the words and syllables before asking students to write the word.

·     When speaking: provide additional support by showing pictures and giving graphic support. Rehearse written phrases and sentences.

Final Thoughts

When teaching older students about phonological awareness, do not hesitate to use direct teaching methods. By this age, students should be able to sit through reading, spelling, and vocabulary instruction sessions. These activities are short, but if used consistently, they can improve the phonological and phonemic awareness skills of a child.

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