The Alphabetic Principle: From Phonological Awareness to Reading Words (National Center on Improving Literacy, NCIL)


The alphabetic principle has two parts:

  1. Alphabetic understanding is knowing that words are made up of letters that represent the sounds of speech.
  2. Phonological recoding is knowing how to translate the letters in printed words into the sounds they make to read and pronounce the words accurately.

The alphabetic principle is critical in reading and understanding the meaning of text. In typical reading development, children learn to use the alphabetic principle fluently and automatically. This allows them to focus their attention on understanding the meaning of the text, which is the primary purpose of reading.


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