Phonological Awareness: An ASHA How-To Journal Article

This is one of many articles published by the American Speech Language Hearing Association that make surfing the professional journals really worth my time. Phonological Awareness Intervention: Beyond the Basics (1) by C. Melanie Schuele and Donna Boudreau is the peer-reviewed article that speech-language patholgists (SLPs) need to guide and justify their instructional practices. This article is thorough in every sense of the word. There is background, justification for the role of the SLP in literacy intervention, definitions of terms, and step-by-step direction in how to teach phonological awareness skills. This article belongs in the personal reference materials of any SLP working with children.

This article is full of easy-to-read figures and tables that itemize key points. Table 8 on page 14-15 is a page and a half of an actual dialogue between adult and child ! There are 4 ½ pages of references for anyone looking for additional material.

There are so many jewels in this article; however, I will highlight only one here. An example of how this is an article about how to teach, here is a quote from page 10: “Learning is best characterized not by moving a child from 20% correct to 50% correct to 100% correct, but by moving a child from successful performance with maximal support to successful performance with little or no support.” This is so true for speech therapy for stuttering, in my opinion. Parents are eager to know when a child will become more fluent in the most excitable, linguistically challenging situations. Parents need to understand that this will only begin to happen when they provide maximal supports. They must take the initiative to CHANGE THE SPEAKING SITUATION - NOT CHANGE THE CHILD. This is maximal support.

In speech therapy for stuttering, we are looking to make speech and language more efficient. What are we going to actually do in a speech therapy session? Many years ago, we focused on the length and complexity of utterance. We trained speech tools at the syllable, then single word, then phrase, then sentence levels. Now, we can approach therapy activities is a more sophisticated way by embedding phonological awareness training and other literacy skills into our sessions.

“Several critical reviews of the general efficacy of phonological awareness instruction and intervention have provided conclusive evidence that phonological awareness can be improved through instruction and intervention, and improvement in phonological awareness leads to improvement in word decoding…reading researchers have called on practitioners to provide intervention to children with poor phonological awareness as early as kindergarten…to provide phonological awareness intervention to older students who demonstrate poor reading achievement in word decoding skills.” P. 3

Many of our students have additional difficulties, such as articulation and language delays/disorders and dyslexia. We can embed emergent literacy tasks nto our speech therapy activities for the sake of prevention as well as remediation for all of our clients at some point in their therapeutic journeys.

Thank you ASHA.

(1) Schuele, C.M. & Boudreau, D. (2008) Language Speech Hearing Services in Schools, Vol. 39, pp 3-20.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.