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Phonological Processing

Phonological processing refers to the use of phonological/sound information in processing written language (reading and writing) and oral language (listening and speaking). It is an essential component in learning to read and spell, as it allows the learner to link speech sounds with a letter/letter cluster. 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).


Three kinds of phonological processing skills are especially relevant for the mastery of written language including:

  • phonological awareness

  • short-term verbal memory (phonological memory)

  • verbal processing speed (rapid automatic naming).


The phonological processing system also plays a part in working memory. It tracks the information you hear, whether that be out aloud or in your head, until it can be processed, organised, or put to use. However, if your verbal working memory is limited due to problems with phonological processing, then the words may fade away before your brain has finished processing them.


At Brain & Language Connections, an assessment of your child's literacy skills always includes testing in all areas of phonological processing.

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