What is Phonological Processing?

You may have heard of the term phonological processing and you may have even been told that you have weak phonological processing skills, but what does it mean exactly?

We all have a phonological processing system which is used to process basic word sounds. These basic word sounds are called phonemes. This is what children tend to learn when they first start school; for example, for the letter B they may say “ber” instead of “bee”. These phonemes are put together to form spoken words.

The phonological processing system’s main role is to analyse and manipulate sound structures of words. This means that you can hear the sounds of the words and convert them into letters on a page (spelling). You can also see letters on a page and convert them into something you can hear (reading).

Many dyslexics struggle to either split words they hear into separate sounds; for example, the word potato has three separate sounds: po-ta-to, or distinguish word sounds from one another; for example, finding it hard to tell the difference between probably and properly. Because of this they are more likely to struggle with reading and spelling.

The phonological processing system also plays a part in working memory (see blog: what was I going to say?). It tracks the information you hear, whether that be out loud or in your head, until it can be processed, organised, or put to use. However, if your working memory for what you hear is limited due to problems with phonological processing, then the words may fade away before your brain has finished processing them. This means that you will find it hard to follow meetings and verbal instructions, find it harder in a language based learning environment and have difficulty remembering phone messages.

5 Comments
  1. Tolkny 6 years ago

    This looks interesting.

    Where did you come from and why didn’t I realise you were about before?

    Are you linked in with Dyspraxia Foundation and/or DANDA?

    Are you really offering free training? Where abouts?

    At 63 and retired but seriously struggling in a mire of disorganisation I am pretty desperate as I contemplate muddle and serious responsibilities avoided which give difficulties for my children and realtaives from whom I am virtually estranged.

    Oh I am an addict as well, typing this at 5.25 am, not having been to bed yet – did I say about muddle and I have a routine medical check up due at 10.15 am.

    I’ll stop now and hope inspiration arrives if I ever turn this computer off!

    • nancy 6 years ago

      We’re offering some seminars for Occ Health and Managers, which I’ve just put a link up for.

      Actually we do know the dyspraxia foundation and DANDA – both fabulous organisations.

      Have you given the Genius in Training video on Organisational Skills a go? Our pilot groups found it just as useful as a 1:1 coaching session…. Give it a whirl and let us know what you think.

      https://www.geniuswithin.co.uk/index.php/product/organisation_skills/22

      Nancy

  2. edk 6 years ago

    I’m confused. I have visual dyslexia but the words aren’t blurry, fussy or moving. My reading comprehension is less then 12 years old (I’m 25) and my spelling is about the same. The strange thing is I tested at the 98th percentile for phonological awareness, so what the heck is going on in my brain?

    I feel bad for the guy above. Too many dyslexics become estranged from their family and friends due to a lack of understanding and unrealistic expectations.
    Anyway thanks for listening.
    P.s thank you spell check

    • nancy 6 years ago

      It’s completely usual for there to be wide differences between strengths and weaknesses. Phonological processing is often a difficulty for dyslexics, but seems to be your ‘genius within’….

  3. […] really sure what phonological processing is, so I can’t really explain it so heres a link https://www.geniuswithin.co.uk/blog/dyslexia/what-is-phonological-processing/. I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety for about a year now However I’ve been […]

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