A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a language that can distinguish words. For example, the phonemes /b/ and /p/ differentiate "bat" from "pat." Understanding phonemes is crucial for language learners to develop accurate pronunciation and improve their listening skills. Phonemic awareness activities, such as minimal pair exercises, help students recognize and produce different phonemes. Teaching phonemes involves practicing the sounds of the target language, using phonetic symbols, and providing auditory discrimination exercises.