Issues Involved in Defining Phonological Awareness and Its Relation to Early Reading
The first exposure to the concept of phonological awareness for many educators and psychologists came from the publication of Language by Ear and by Eye, edited by James Kavanaugh and Ignatius Mattingly in 1972. In this volume, Mattingly, Harris Savin, and Donald Shankweiler and Isabelle Liberman discussed the relation between an awareness of phonological segments (then called linguistic awareness) and learning to read. Shankweiler and Liberman's research drew from the work in speech perception done at the Haskins Laboratories (e.g., Liberman, Cooper, Shankweiler, & StuddertKennedy, 1967), which found that spoken words could not be acoustically analyzed into discrete phonological segments because the phonemes, which could be thought of abstractly as separate elements, were "folded" together into units. "Before he can map the visual message to the word in his vocabulary, [the child] has to be consciously aware that the word cat that he knows-an apparently unity syllable-has three separate segments" (Shankweiler & Liberman, 1972, p. 309). Shankweiler and Liberman suggested that difficulties in phonological awareness were at the root of many reading problems.