Phonological Awareness, Phonemic Awareness

Developing Reading Proficiency in Older Students

In this article, Majorie Bottari, a literacy specialist for Heggerty Phonemic Awareness, describes the importance of phonemic awareness in all children, even those who are older. She describes the most critical parts of literacy instruction and strategies to use with older children lacking reading proficiency.
Developing Reading Proficiency in Older Students
September 23, 2022
Developing Reading Proficiency in Older Students
Developing Reading Proficiency in Older Students

Why is phonemic awareness important?

  • Phonological awareness difficulties are the most common source of reading difficulties
  • Many educators haven’t had access to the important findings of The National Reading Panel’s report from 2000, which details the five most critical components of literacy instruction:
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

Background information:

  • Reading involves understanding that words are made up of individual sounds (phonemes) and requires that students can work with them (isolating, blending, segmenting, and manipulating them).
  • There are three parts to phonemic awareness skills:
  • Phoneme isolation (identifying)
  • Blending and segmenting
  • Manipulating
  • When connecting phonemic awareness to print, there are three steps in doing so:
  • Phonemic awareness instruction
  • Explicit phonics or word study instruction
  • Application to controlled text and opportunities for transfer to writing

Reading proficiency in older students:

  • First, all students should receive systematic phonemic awareness instruction, no matter how old they are. Phonological awareness continues to develop in typical readers even beyond the first grade.
  • The process of reading is the same for all students. The only difference is that some students can learn to read with little or no instruction at all. However, the majority of students require more explicit and systematic instruction.
  • For older students with a gap in reading proficiency, that gap must be closed quickly, which can be accomplished by focusing phonemic awareness instruction on the skills that are the most powerful, such as blending, segmenting, and manipulating phonemes.

For an example intervention plan and additional resources for phonemic awareness, word study, and decodable/controlled text, visit the original source, which can be found at the bottom of this page.


Original Sources:
Marjorie Bottari, Heggerty, "Phonemic Awareness in Older Learners":

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