Phonemic Awareness: Early Intervention for Later Student Retention


French Immersion, School-level initiative, Northern B.C. Region, 2017-2018


The Language Coordinator piloted an early intervention program to help Grade One students learn pre-reading skills to become successful readers. These skills are critical for emerging readers to build confidence and reduce the likelihood of dropping out of the program in later grades. Research indicates that students can transfer pre-reading skills from English to French (see Wise, N. (2014) Phonological Awareness Training for Struggling Readers in Grade 1 French Immersion (PhD thesis) University of Toronto.

 The Language Coordinator conducted a Phonological Assessment screen for three at-risk Grade One French Immersion students. Over the course of 8 weeks from April to June, the students received pull-out phonological training to help the students build mastery of pre-reading skills. The students received targeted support with one letter per session and training on rhyme, segmenting, blending, and phonemic awareness twice per week with additional support from the learning assistance E.A. The study concluded with a post-assessment using the Phonological Assessment screen and French Elision and Blending Words tests (Wise, 2014).


The post-assessment of the Phonological Assessment screen confirms that all students showed gains with letter recognition, sounds and phonemic awareness skills. Anecdotal evidence from the teacher indicates that they have made excellent progress in being able to experiment with language, decode and spell words. This pilot was successful in helping the students develop the necessary pre-reading skills. As a result of these successes, the pilot will continue with a new group of Grade One students identified as at-risk readers in September 2018. The progress of the 2017/18 cohort will be monitored in future years to determine efficacy of phonemic awareness with regards to student retention in French Immersion.