What is phonemic awareness?
Phonemic awareness is the most advanced level of phonological awareness. It refers to a child’s awareness of the individual phonemes — the smallest units of sound — in spoken words, as well as the ability to manipulate those sounds.
Phonics instruction generally focuses on teaching children letter-sound correspondences. Since letters are not something that our brain can process automatically, phonics has to start by helping children identify sounds (called phonemes) in spoken language first. This is called phonemic awareness.
For example, /d/, /o/, and /g/ are the phonemes (sounds) in the word dog If we replace /d/ with /l/, we get log. Being able to identify each phoneme in a word and being able to manipulate it, e.g. by replacing it with another phoneme to get another word, builds phonemic awareness.