Segmenting Phoneme Sounds

Phoneme awareness is being able to separate words into different sounds and identify where each sound lies in the breakdown of a word. For certain students, this awareness can develop almost naturally. However, others may struggle to grasp phoneme awareness and may require additional help and support. 

One means of helping struggling students develop phoneme awareness is by teaching them phoneme segmentation. Read on to find out how to teach phoneme segmentation and what level of phoneme understanding each age level should be at. 

Phoneme Segmentation Explained 

The best way to get kids to grasp phoneme segmentation is by getting them to stretch out short words and asking them to identify the different sounds that make up the word. 

For example – Dog. 

The student should segment the word to /D//O//G/ and be able to identify that there are three phoneme sounds present. 

These CVC words (consonant – vowel – consonant) are an easy way for students to learn phoneme segmentation basics. However, they may struggle – particularly students who have speech articulation difficulties – when bigger words are introduced. 

How To Teach Phoneme Segmentation 

When phoneme segmenting bigger words, it can be helpful to introduce finger counting while segmenting the word. For example, take the word ‘river’– /r//i//v//er/ – you should count out four fingers on your hand as the segments appear. 

Other ways of teaching phoneme segmentation include giving out cards with a picture and a set number of blank spaces on them. The blank spaces should correspond with the number of phoneme segments in the word that describes the picture. This gives the children a hint, but it also helps with overall comprehension of phoneme segmenting. 

Teachers should also incorporate phoneme segmentation into other activities throughout the day, such as reading time. It could help pause and ask the class ‘how many phoneme segments are in this word?’ so that phoneme segmenting can be integrated into their daily comprehension. 

Different Levels of Phoneme Comprehension 

These are the different age groups for the levels of phoneme comprehension:

Age 4 – The child should show some comprehension of rhyming. 

Age 5 – From a list of words, a child should be able to identify which word doesn’t rhyme. 

Age 5½ – A child should grasp the basics of phoneme segmentation, such as identifying the first or last sounds of a word or identifying what section of the word rhymes with other words. 

Age 6½ – A child should segment a word into 3 or 4 different phoneme sounds. 

Age 7 – A child should be able to identify and delete certain phoneme sounds from a word. 

Concluding Thoughts

You should now have a rough idea of what phoneme sounds are, how to teach them, and what stage of phoneme understanding your students should be at.

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