Phonological awareness

Phonological awareness is a critical skill for all students’ literacy development and a predictor of later reading and spelling success. Phonological awareness refers to oral language and is the understanding of the different ways that language can be broken down into smaller parts.

Phonological awareness consists of five subskills beginning with word, syllable, onset/rime awareness, moving to the more complex subskills of basic and advanced phonemic awareness.

You can watch a video which explains the definition of phonological awareness and learn about the subskills.

What is phonological awareness?

Supporting the development of reading skills

This series of videos explores our understanding of phonological awareness and why it is a critical skill for reading development.


Definition of a syllable

Onset and rime

A discussion of onset and rime

Phonemic awareness and decoding

Exploring the connection between phonemic awareness and successful decoding


Explaining phonemes

Phonological and phonemic awareness

Explaining the difference

Basic phonemic awareness skills and phonics

Jane Lieschke explains the skills students need before the layer of phonics is introduced

To hear more about how phonological awareness can support early reading acquisition, listen to our two-part podcast 'A speech pathologists view on oral language, phonological awareness and phonics'


These resources can be downloaded to support teaching in the classroom (staff only).


The on-demand Phonological awareness diagnostic assessment is designed to tell teachers how students are progressing in phonological awareness.


Professional learning opportunities in the practical application of evidence-based teaching of reading are available on the Literacy and numeracy professional learning web page.

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