Catherine Carpenter & Natascia Tomassi

Fostering and developing phonemic awareness in the primary classroom

"Phonemic awareness is an essential aspect of becoming an expert reader. In this workshop the difficulties children have when learning to read and pronounce English as a foreign or second language will be explored, with particular reference to 19 vowel sounds. Participants will practise recognising and producing these vowel sounds and be given ideas on how to promote phonemic awareness"


It has always been Catherine’s belief that although existing phonics materials work well with children who were learning English as a first language the material often falls short for children who were learning English as an extra Language particularly those who are learning English as a foreign language.

The overall objectives of the workshop are to explore the particular difficulties a child who is learning English as a second language has over and above that of a child has who is learning English as a first language. The tenuous relationship between spelling and pronunciation will be explored.

We will look at a simple way of promoting phonemic awareness which can help children to develop reading, writing and pronunciation.

The session is aimed at Primary teachers who are teaching both in a bilingual and EFL context.

The workshop will cover:

• A general analysis of the difficulties a child either in a bilingual or EFL context has with pronunciation, reading, and spelling. Participants will be asked to consider in what way teaching children to read and write in a second language is different from teaching children to read in their first language.

• An exploration into how words are spelt and how they are pronounced. Participants will explore the difficulties of pronouncing new vocabulary from the written word.

• The exploration and practice of 19 different vowel sounds in the English language. Participants will be asked to identify and practice the 19 vowel sounds.

• Ideas will be given on how we can promote phonemic awareness in children and how this awareness and knowledge can help children to pronounce and read the English language for years to come.


Catherine has a B.ed Hons. RSA Diploma, (DTEFLA) and an MA in TESOL. She has worked in the UK, Greece, Cyprus and Italy. She was responsible for the Young Learners at British Council Rome Italy for 20 years. She left in 2019 and has been working on “Pronics” (Pronunciation and Phonics) for Primaries ever since.


Natascia started teaching English to children in Rome at 19 years old. Natascia has always been passionate about languages and linguistics. She holds a degree in Linguistics, Russian and French, speaks Spanish and is a bilingual Italian English speaker.