Phonemes are the smallest units making up spoken language. English consists of about 41 phonemes. Phonemes combine to form syllables and words. A few words have only one phoneme, such as a (a) or oh (o). Most words consist of a blend of phonemes, such as go (g-o) with two phonemes, check (ch-e-ck) with three phonemes, or stop with four phonemes (s-t-o-p). Phonemic awareness refers to the ability to focus on and manipulate these phonemes in spoken words.
Teaching Strategies and Examples from the Big Ideas of Beginning Reading Instruction