A growing number of researchers are criticizing an overemphasis on auditory skills

Jill Barshay:

Educators around the country have embraced the “science of reading” in their classrooms, but that doesn’t mean there’s a truce in the reading wars. In fact, controversies are emerging about an important but less understood aspect of learning to read: phonemic awareness. 

That’s the technical name for showing children how to break down words into their component letter sounds and then fuse the sounds together. In a phonemic awareness lesson, a teacher might ask how many sounds are in the word cat.  The answer is three: “k,” “a,” and “t.” Then the class blends the sounds back into the familiar sounding word: from “kuh-aah-tuh” to “kat.” The 26 letters of the English alphabet produce 44 phonemes, which include unique sounds made from combinations of letters, such as “ch” and “oo.”