This research examines the development of phonological awareness and how it interacts with literacy achievement. The conventional wisdom is that children must know how to break a word into its constituent phonemes (the sounds represented by the letters of the alphabet) before they can learn to read. However, research shows that children can analyze words into phonemes only after they have an alphabetic representation for the phonemes. In other words literacy comes before phoneme awareness.
The research is presently focused on identifying the phonological skills that are prerequisite for literacy, and suggests that ability to break words into onsets (the initial consonants in a syllable) and rimes (the vowel and any following consonants in a syllable) is the critical factor. This research has included the development of a technique to teach associations between letter sequences and their pronunciation that is effective in teaching dyslexics to read and spell. Current focus is in extending this research and developing curriculum materials for children and nonliterate adults based on this teaching method