Date of Award


Degree Type

UG Dissertation (Restricted)



First Advisor

Associate Professor, YEUNG Ngor-to, Lorrita


In its report Teaching children to read, the National Reading Panel of the US concludes that phonemic awareness is one of the best predictors of success in early reading. One may ask if phonemic awareness is of equal importance to Hong Kong children Ieami11g to read in English, owing to the fact that their first language is phonologically and orthographically different from English. The aim of this paper was to examine this issue with a view to verifying the significance of phonemic awareness to Hong Kong children and suggesting recommendations for implementing phonemic awareness among them so that their reading ability can be improved. In the beginning of the paper, terms relating to phonemic awareness were defined. With these basic concepts, steps were taken to examine the nature of English language; the differences between the cognitive processes of English and Cantonese; the English language performance of Hong Kong students; and the English language education policy and curricula that are in place in Hong Kong for kindergartens and primary schools. These analyses do unveil the fact that phonemic awareness is weak among Hong Kong students and is significant in improving their reading ability as" well as learning outcome in the primary, secondary and tertiary education. With the justification, the paper further studied factors that affect the development of phonemic awareness. While the recommendations in Teaching children to read were examined, the different contradictory views concerning phonemic approach; the imperfection of English; the nature of intellectual development and word recognition; and the notion of waiving 'comprehension' and 'irregularities of spelling' from the initial stage of learning were also studied. From these studies, recommendations for implementing phonemic awareness were drawn. In a nutshell, this paper is in support of a kindergarten and primary curriculum that places heavy emphasis on improving Hong Kong children's phonemic awareness through phonics instructions, with which are supplemented phonemic awareness oral activities which act both as an enhancer of phonics instructions and a testing tool to identify reinforcement phonics activities for further enhancing children's ability on phonemic awareness.

Recommended Citation

Leung, W. K. P. (2002). Phonemic awareness: its pedagogic significance in improving Hong Kong children's reading ability (UG dissertation, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from