The Language of Literacy


Many children struggle with learning to read.  Teachers and parents can attest that reading failure has significant long-term consequences for children’s developing self-confidence and willingness to keep on learning as well as for school performance in later years.  

Research on reading instruction, focusing on the critical years from kindergarten through third grade identified methods that consistently relate to reading success.

The National Reading Panel Report defined five areas that must be included in a successful reading program.  They are: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension.

In teaching phonemic awareness, it is useful to define some terms.  


A phoneme is the smallest part of spoken language that makes a difference in the meaning of words.  English has about 41 phonemes.  A few words, such as or oh, have only one phoneme, but most words have more than one phoneme: the word if has two: /i/ /f/; check has three phonemes: /ch/ /e/ /k/.


A grapheme is the smallest part of written language that represents a phoneme in the spelling of a word.  A grapheme may be just one letter, such as b, f, p; or several letters, such as ph, th, -igh.

Phoneme = sound, grapheme = letter(s).



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