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The Five Key Skills For Reading

Reading skills are built on five separate components: phonics, phonemic awareness,
vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. These components work together to create strong, rich, and reliable reading abilities.



Phonics is the connection of different sounds with different letters, or different groupings of letters. For example, the letter ‘s’ gives an /s/ sound but adding an ‘h’ gives the different sound of /sh/.


Phonemic awareness is an understanding of how individual phonemes (consonant or
vowel sounds) can be manipulated and arranged to create words. This may sound like phonics, but there is a difference. Phonics concerns letter–sound knowledge, whereas phonemic awareness refers to sound–word knowledge. Phonemic awareness is therefore aimed on auditory understanding, as opposed to words on a page.


Vocabulary is the range of words an individual can understand and use in context. Most individuals’ vocabularies grow as they read and are introduced to new words across their lifespan.


Fluency is the ability to read with speed, understanding, and accuracy. Yet it’s more than information extraction — it’s the skill that allows us to ‘follow’ a text, picture its descriptions, and hear the auditory expression of words in our heads even when reading silently.


Comprehension is a student’s understanding of the information being imparted by a text, such as who, what, when, where ideas and meanings.

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