There are many components to reading but there are five main pillars that are essential and recognized as the foundation of reading skills. These five pillars include phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Let’s take a deeper look at what each of these pillars mean.

  1. Phonemic Awareness –
    • Phonemes are the smallest unit that makes up a language and are what set one word apart from others. These are the spoken sounds of each letter. While there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, some letters have multiple spoken sounds, there are around 41 phonemes in the English language. Phonemic awareness refers to being able to break down each sound of a letter in a word. This is often seen when someone learning to read is sounding out words.
  2. Phonics –
    • Phonics are similar to phonemic awareness but is the relationship between letters. Knowing how letters interact with each other will not only help people with reading but also spelling!
  3. Fluency –
    • Fluency is when a reader can read a text with few mistakes or hesitation. This means reading at an appropriate speed and fitting expressions.
  4. Vocabulary –
    • Every time someone learns a new word it enters their vocabulary. This includes knowing the meaning of the word, the spelling, and the pronunciation. The more words someone has in their vocabulary the easier it will be for them to understand what they are reading.
  5. Comprehension –
    • Comprehension is similar to vocabulary. However, vocabulary refers to the understanding of individual words while comprehension refers to an overall understanding of what is being read.

The process of learning to read can be different for everyone and these are just recommendations of what can help. If you or someone you know is looking to learn how to read, write, or have a better understanding of English literacy, visit the Literacy Council!



English Language Learners and the Five Essential Components of Reading Instruction