Phonological Awareness Skills as a Precursor to Literacy Development

MQF Level: 7

ECTS Value: 1 ECTS

Duration: 2 Sessions

Contact Hours: 5

Self Study Hours: 12

Assessment Hours: 8


Module Description

Competence in phonological development provides a strong and successful foundation for later reading and writing skills as it is one of the precursors of literacy skills. The necessary components to develop the skills in this area require a knowledgeable teacher who understands this development, and who can help students develop such skills through explicit and implicit teaching. Some students do not develop these phonology skills naturally and these gaps need to be addressed as a lack of these skills will impact the development of reading and writing. It is generally agreed that phonological deficit is the main cause of dyslexia (Blomert and Willems, 2010; Ziegler and Goswami, 2005).

The module will focus on the following key areas:

a) Theories and science underlying phonological awareness;

b) The development of phonological skills related to age acquisition;

c) Assessing phonological awareness skills – identification of students’ phonological skills and difficulties;

d) Phonological awareness skills and strategies to support students within a whole language approach.

Overall Objectives and Outcomes

By the end of this module, the learner will be able to:


a) Assess students’ phonological awareness skills and difficulties;

b) Develop phonological awareness skills and implement strategies using a pedagogical approach based on theory and research to address students’ difficulties;

c) Respond to students’ phonological awareness needs and adapt teaching skills and strategies accordingly; 

d) Assist parents/caregivers in implementing phonological awareness skills strategies at home.


a) Describe the theories underpinning phonological awareness;

b) Demonstrate an understanding of the language processing in phonological awareness;

c) Articulate the sounds in Maltese and English in a clear manner;

d) Outline the phases of a phonological awareness developmental progression.


a) Identify students’ phonological awareness skills and difficulties;

b) Use the phonology of the Maltese and English languages;

c) Identify students’ phonological awareness skills and difficulties;

d) Use the phonology of the Maltese and English languages;

e) Plan phonological awareness lessons using a pedagogy based on research;

f) Organize and teach phonological skills explicitly and systematically through a hierarchal approach linked to students’ development;

g) Support parents/caregivers within the family literacy intervention session.

Mode of Delivery

This module adopts a blended approach to teaching and learning. Information related to the structure and delivery of the module may be accessed through the IfE Portal. For further details, kindly refer to the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Policy and Procedures found on the Institute for Education’s website.

Assessment Methods

This module will be assessed through: Research Assingment and Online Tasks/Reflections.

Suggested Readings

Core Reading List

1) Cassano, C. & Steiner, L. (2016) Exploring assessment demands and task supports in early childhood phonological awareness assessments In Literacy Research: Theory, Method and Practice. Vol 65, Issue 1, pp. 217 – 235

2) Grech, H. & Dodd, B. (2008) Phonological acquisition in Malta: a bilingual language learning context, International Journal of Bilingualism, vol. 12, (3): 155-171, no. 3, pp. 155–177.

3) Sammut, R. (2015) The design of a Maltese Literacy Programme for the early years. Malta Review of Educational Research. Volume 9, No.1, Special Issue, pp. 5-23 Faculty of Education, UoM.

4) Xuereb, Rachael, Grech, Helen, & Dodd, Barbara. (2011) The Development of a Literacy Diagnostic Tool for Maltese Children. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 25(5), pp. 379-398.

Supplementary Reading List

1) Mathes, P. G. Torgesen, J. K. & Allor, J. H. (2001) The effects of peer-assisted literacy strategies for first grade readers with or without additional computer assisted instruction in phonological awareness In American Educational Research Journal. Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 371 – 410

2) Ramus, F. & Szenkovits, G. (2008) What phonological deficit? In The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Vol 6, Issue 1 pp. 129 – 14

3) Ziegler, J. C. & Goswami, U. (2005) Reading acquisition, developmental dyslexia, and skilled reading across languages: A psycholinguistic grain size theory In Psychological Bulletin. Vol. 131, No. 1, pp. 3–29

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