How does phonemic awareness affect reading comprehension?
Phonemic awareness relates to reading comprehension as it is the first building block of the reading process, followed by phonics instruction. It is most effective when students master phonemic awareness skills by first grade. The results of the National Reading Panel’s study of phonemic awareness instruction demonstrated that, “Teaching children to manipulate phonemes in words was highly effective across all the literacy domains and outcomes. Without being able to recognize individual sounds in words, a reader is unable to sound out words. When the learner cannot decode (or sound out) words, he or she will be unable to understand the words in the text. If the reader does not know the words in the text, he or she will be unable to create meaning, or comprehend what he or she is reading.
The National Reading Panel’s extensive research has found, “A close relationship exists between fluency and reading comprehension. The conclusion of The Panel’s meta-analysis of fluency indicates that guided oral reading procedures have had, “A consistent, and positive impact on word recognition, fluency, and comprehension,”. Additionally, there is a common misconception that fluency is automatic for students who have strong word-recognition skills. However, a study shows that “success in decoding and reading largely depends upon the child’s phonological processing skills,”. Researchers indicate that automacy in word recognition is contingent upon phonemic awareness and phonological processing skills.
The National Reading Panel recognizes that, “Fluency is a critical component of skilled reading,”. After students have developed a basis in phonemic awareness and phonics, they are able to read more fluently. The National Reading Panel defines, “Fluent readers can read text with speed, accuracy, and proper expression,”. Phonemic awareness leads to phonics, phonics leads to fluency, and fluency leads to comprehension. Students can only accept responsibility for one’s own reading development after mastering the first building block of reading: phonemic awareness.
Phonemic Awareness & Adolescence
According to the National Reading Panel, educators should focus on teaching phoneme blending and phoneme segmentation to produce the most effective results of phonemic awareness. Only after developing a strong foundation of phonemic awareness can a reader successfully apply phonetic principles to language to enable word decoding and encoding.
Failure to read successfully is a problem that persists throughout adolescence. According to Royer, “Many adolescents and adults who graduate from adult basic-education programs – so the thesis of the present study– fail to attain automatic word recognition and therefore must expend considerable effort to understand texts they are trying to read,”.
Overall, all the five elements of reading—phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension—work together like the pieces of a puzzle. If one piece is missing, the reader is unable to construct adequate, accurate meaning from the text.
EC Assistant Principal