Using Pictures to Teach Phonemic Awareness to MLs

Using Pictures to Teach Phonemic Awareness to MLs

Phonemic Awareness Pictures

Have you heard that phonemic awareness is a skill that you can teach with the lights off? While this is true (phonemic awareness is about manipulating sounds orally) for many multilingual learners this means that many of these activities can seem like they are full of nonsense words. If you add in pictures then students are both practicing their phonemic awareness skills AND building their vocabulary. Here are some ideas on how to use pictures to teach phonemic awareness skills.

Play a Guessing Game

Choose an object that you can see, or a picture and give hints about the word.

Segment the word /t/ /r/ /ē/ and have students guess what it is.

Point to a Picture

Give hints to create a word chain. Point to pictures for each word.

cut- change the /u/ to /ū/, change the /c/ to /m/

word chain

Show Pictures Before or After

Either before or after a lesson, use pictures to teach phonemic awareness skills. First show students pictures of some or all of the words you will be using. This way the main focus can be on hearing the sounds but students that need the extra support can still learn the vocabulary words.

sight word phonemic awareness

Sound Sorts

As a part of word study, have students sort pictures based on sound. For example long and sort vowels or beginning sounds. Not only does this help MLs learn new vocabulary, it helps all students focus on the sounds inside the word. When students are only sorting written words they sometimes learn that they can quickly look for specific letters without actually reading the word.

long short a sorts

Twitter Discussion about using Pictures When Teaching Phonemic Awareness

Read a discussion between teachers of multilingual learners about if phonemic awareness practice should include pictures. (Hint….the consensus is YES!)


Read more about teaching phonemic awareness to ELLs.

Phonemic and Phonological Awareness Activities Bundle

Picture Word Sorts

FCRR Student Center Activities has free phonemic awareness activities that include pictures. Click on a grade level and then open the activity.

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