Phonological Awareness And Literacy

Phonological awareness is the ability to perceive and manipulate sounds in words. It includes breaking words into syllables, understanding and using rhyme, and being able to isolate sounds in words (c-a-t for cat) or blend sounds together to make words (d-o-g makes dog). Phonological awareness is an essential skill for children learning to read, although not the only one. Children also need to know the sounds that the letters of the alphabet say, and have the ability to comprehend what they are reading. All of these skills can be addressed by a speech pathologist.


The evidence is clear that reading is a language-based skill and that most children with learning difficulties have difficulties in the processing of language, either across broader language domains or specifically in the area of phonological awareness.

Why is speech therapy important?


Speech Pathologists have specific training in phonological awareness and how best to remediate these difficulties. Targeted early in a child’s learning journey, such as in the preschool or prep year, phonological awareness training can reduce rates of learning difficulties in at risk children.
Speech Pathology can also identify other areas of your child’s development that are impacting their leaning such as speech and language delays.

What does an assessment for learning difficulties look like?


Assessments are individualised depending on the child’s age, the concerns of the parents and their current skill level. Most assessments for children struggling with their literacy skills include:


  • discussion around parents’ concerns and the child’s history
  • language assessment
  • phonological awareness testing
  • assessment of the child’s sound-letter correspondence knowledge
  • reading and spelling tests if appropriate.


Your child’s assessment session concludes with a discussion around the assessment results, and development of therapy goals.

What does speech therapy look like for literacy difficulties?


All speech therapy sessions are tailored to the individual needs of the child based on their assessment results. Tasks are designed to allow the child to be successful and gain confidence in their literacy skills while targeting specific aspects of reading such as phonological awareness, sound-letter correspondence or decoding.