Phonological Awareness Intervention

Phonological awareness intervention is essential for all children who struggle to acquire phonological awareness skills in line with their typically developing peers. Intervention is recommended for children who are struggling in the following areas:

  • Speech sound disorder (SSD), particularly phonological delay or disorder (either consistent or inconsistent), childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). 
  • Vocabulary acquisition.
  • Literacy (learning to read and spell)

Speech Sound Disorder (SSD)

  • There is a growing body of evidence that phonological awareness intervention brings about positive change in children with Speech Sound Disorders (SSD) (e.g. Smith et al., 1998; Hesketh et al., 2000; Adams et al., 2000).
  • Phonological awareness is a component in most interventions for children with SSD and can be effectively implemented by SLTS, SLT assistants, teaching assistants and parents (e.g. Joffe & Pring, 2008; Lancaster et al., 2010).
  • Phonological awareness is a key component of the psycholinguistic approach to intervention for children with SSD (Stackhouse & Wells, 1998).
  • Core vocabulary intervention for children with inconsistent phonological disorder includes explicit phonological awareness at phoneme level (Dodd et al., 2006).
  • Some interventions for CAS include phonological awareness skills (e.g. Moriarty & Gillon, 2006).
  • There is limited evidence regarding when children with SSD are most likely to benefit from phonological awareness intervention (Smith et al., 1998). Click here to read about how the PAS project aims to fill this research gap.

Vocabulary development 

  • There is a growing body of evidence to support phonological awareness intervention as an essential component in vocabulary learning and interventions (e.g. Zens et al., 2009).
  • Phonological awareness is integrated into several widely used vocabulary interventions e.g. Word Aware (Branagan & Parsons, 2017); Robust Vocabulary Intervention (Beck, McKeown & Kucan, 2008).

Literacy (reading and spelling)

  • There is strong, high quality evidence to support the use of phonological awareness intervention for children who are struggling to learn to read. Evidence indicates that children should have robust syllable level skills and emerging phoneme level skills to be ready for learning phonics (the matching of letters to sounds) (e.g. Anthony & Francis, 2005; Carroll et al., 2003).

Service delivery

  • Phonological awareness intervention is an integral part of early years classrooms and speech and language therapy for children with SSD and vocabulary difficulties. It can be implemented as universal, targeted and specialist approaches. It can be interwoven with classroom activities, provided one-to-one or in small groups, given by SLTs, SLT assistants, teachers, teaching assistants or parents.