Encouraging students to be attentive to the sounds and patterns in spoken language is one way of helping students to develop phonemic awareness. Research has shown that language development, particularly vocabulary development, impacts significantly on phonemic awareness (Lonigan, 2007).
Singing and reciting rhymes, chants and poems can enhance students’ understanding and enjoyment of rhyme, rhythm and the sounds of language. Singing and rhyming help to teach phonological awareness (McNeil, 2012).
Rhymes and tongue twisters promote knowledge of alliteration and onset and rime. Reciting rhymes and poems can also help with reading and speaking fluency. Teachers can help students engage with rhymes, to identify rhyming words, identify individual sounds and discover sound-letter patterns (Hornsby & Wilson, 2011).
Discussing rhymes, allowing for spontaneous responses and giving students the opportunity to share their connections with the rhyming text promote oral language development, while enhancing some of the skills needed for reading and writing.
Rhymes are often shared in early years classrooms through the strategy of choral reading, where multiple voices read together. Although less common in the middle and upper primary years, the strategy of choral reading should be considered for the reading of rhymes, songs and poetry, as teaching with this strategy can promote thinking and talking critically as students engage in dialogue about the meaning of the text and how it might best be prepared for ‘performance’ (Cliff-Hodges, 2016).
Links to the Victorian Curriculum - English
- Identify rhyming words, alliteration patterns, syllables and some sounds (phonemes) in spoken words (VCELA168)
- Blend and segment onset and rime in single syllable spoken words and isolate, blend and segment phonemes in single syllable words (first consonant sound, last consonant sound, middle vowel sound) (VCELA169)
- Understand how to use phonic knowledge and accumulated understandings about blending, letter–sound relationships, common and uncommon letter patterns and phonic generalisations to recognise and write increasingly complex words (VCELA353)
- Understand how to use banks of known words, word origins, base words, prefixes, suffixes, spelling patterns and generalisations to spell new words, including technical words and words adopted from other languages (VCELA354)
Links to the Victorian Curriculum - English as an Additional Language (EAL)
Speaking and listening
- Imitate pronunciation, stress and intonation patterns (VCEALL027)
- Use intelligible pronunciation but with many pauses and hesitations (VCEALL028)
- Repeat or modify a sentence or phrase, modelling rhythm, intonation and pronunciation on the speech of others (VCEALL109)
- Identify and produce phonemes in blends or clusters at the beginning and end of syllables (VCEALL110)
- Identify some sounds in words (VCEALL050)
- Recognise some common letters and letter patterns in words (VCEALL051)
- Relate most letters of the alphabet to sounds (VCEALL131)
- Use knowledge of letters and sounds to read a new word or locate key words (VCEALL132)
- Spell with accuracy some consonant–vowel–consonant words and common words learnt in the classroom (VCEALL080)
- Spell with accuracy familiar words and words with common letter patterns (VCEALL159)
Speaking and listening
- Use pronunciation and non-verbal features to support communication (VCEALL342)
Use pronunciation and some non-verbal features to support communication (VCEALL261)
Use pronunciation and non-verbal features to support communication (VCEALL342)
Use pronunciation and a range of non-verbal features to convey meaning and enhance communication (VCEALL422)
- Apply knowledge of letter–sound relationships to read new words with some support (VCEALL368)
- Self-correct pronunciation (VCEALL371)
- Apply knowledge of letter–sound relationships to deduce the pronunciation of new words (VCEALL447)
- Self-correct a range of aspects of speech (VCEALL450)
- Spell a number of high-frequency words accurately (VCEALL237)
- Spell accurately common words encountered in the classroom (VCEALL318)
- Spell frequently used words with common patterns with increased accuracy (VCEALL398)
- Spell most words accurately, drawing on a range of strategies but with some invented spelling still evident (VCEALL477)
Cliff-Hodges, G. (2016). Becoming poetry teachers: Studying poems through choral reading. Changing English. 23(4), pp. 375 – 386.
Hornsby, D. & Wilson, L. (2011). Teaching phonics in context. Port Melbourne: Pearson.
Lonigan, C. J. (2007). Vocabulary development and the development of phonological awareness skills in preschool children. In R. K. E. Wagner, A. E. E. Muse & K. R. E. Tannenbaum (Eds.), Vocabulary acquisition Implications for reading comprehension (pp. 15-31). New York: Guilford Press.
McNeil, H. (2012). Read, rhyme and romp. Santa Barbara, CA: Pearson Education.