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See detailWorking memory and language: A latent variable longitudinal study
Engel de Abreu, Pascale UL; Gathercole, S

Poster (2008, November)

The relationship between working memory, phonological awareness, and developing language skills was explored longitudinally in children growing up in a multilingual society. A sample of 121 children from ... [more ▼]

The relationship between working memory, phonological awareness, and developing language skills was explored longitudinally in children growing up in a multilingual society. A sample of 121 children from Luxembourg were followed from kindergarten to first grade, and completed multiple assessments of working memory, phonological awareness, native and foreign vocabulary knowledge, language comprehension, and reading. Relations between the measures were best characterized by a model consisting of two related but separable constructs—corresponding to verbal short-term memory and the central executive—that were distinct from phonological awareness. Assessments of verbal short-term memory in kindergarten significantly predicted vocabulary knowledge and comprehension in native and foreign languages 1 year later: Central executive and verbal short-term memory measures in kindergarten were significantly associated with reading in first grade, and phonological awareness did not predict any of the language constructs. [less ▲]

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See detailWorking memory, phonological awareness, and developing language skills
Engel de Abreu, Pascale UL; Gathercole, S

Poster (2008, July)

The relationship between working memory, verbal short-term memory, phonological awareness, and developing language skills was explored longitudinally in children growing up in a multilingual society. A ... [more ▼]

The relationship between working memory, verbal short-term memory, phonological awareness, and developing language skills was explored longitudinally in children growing up in a multilingual society. A sample of 121 children from Luxembourg were followed from the end of Kindergarten to 1st Grade, and completed multiple assessments of verbal short-term memory, complex working memory, phonological awareness, native and foreign vocabulary knowledge, language comprehension, and reading. Results indicate that relations between the measures were best characterized by a model consisting of two related but separable constructs – corresponding to verbal short-term memory and the central executive – that were distinct from phonological awareness. The data further showed that assessments of verbal short-term memory in Kindergarten significantly predicted vocabulary knowledge and comprehension in native and foreign languages one year later: Central executive and verbal short-term memory measures in Kindergarten were significantly associated with reading in 1st Grade and phonological awareness, indexed by rhyme detection, did not predict any of the language constructs one year later. The findings lend strong support to the position that verbal short-term memory is one of the main contributors to new word learning in both native and non-native languages by supporting the formation of stable phonological representations of new words in long-term memory. Verbal short-term memory also seems to play a significant role in the syntactic comprehension of sentences. The heard material might be kept active in verbal short-term memory while the child is listening to the sentence and processing it for comprehension. Finally working memory appears to make significant contributions to reading development. One explanation of these findings is that literacy classroom activities often impose heavy demands on working memory, the capacity of which therefore has a direct effect on the frequency of task failure or success in these classroom activities which consequently influences the rate of learning. [less ▲]

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See detailBrave new word: Multilingualism and language learning. A study of Portuguese immigrant children growing up in a plurilingual society
Engel de Abreu, Pascale UL; Gathercole, S; Martin, Romain UL et al

Poster (2008, April)

Working memory, the capacity to store and manipulate information over brief periods of time (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974) is suggested to play a crucial role in children’s language acquisition in native and ... [more ▼]

Working memory, the capacity to store and manipulate information over brief periods of time (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974) is suggested to play a crucial role in children’s language acquisition in native and foreign languages (e.g. Gathercole, 2006; Service, 1992). The present study investigated children’s working memory skills and vocabulary knowledge in their native and secondary languages in the context of immigration. Twenty Portuguese immigrant children growing up in Luxembourg, who speak Portuguese at home, and acquire Luxembourgish in a natural setting and German through scholastic instruction, participated in the study. Children were assessed on measures of phonological short-term memory (digit recall and nonword repetition) and complex working memory (counting recall and backwards digit recall) in both Luxembourgish and Portuguese, on vocabulary knowledge (Portuguese, Luxembourgish, and German) and on comprehension (Luxembourgish and German). The children were compared to three groups of monolingual children: 20 Luxembourgish speakers living in Luxembourg and 40 Portuguese speakers from Brazil growing up in families of high (N=20) and low (N=20) socio economical status (SES). Groups were matched on age (7 years), nonverbal ability and gender. In the Portuguese immigrant children, language competences in Portuguese, Luxembourgish, and German were at an equivalent level that fell below the linguistic competence of native speakers from Brazil and from Luxembourg. The 4 groups did not differ on two of the four working memory measures. On one of the complex working memory tasks (counting recall) the low SES group from Brazil manifested scores that fell below the three other groups. Finally, the Portuguese immigrant children performed equally well to their Brazilian counterparts in the repetition of the Portuguese sounding nonwords, whereas their performance in the repetition of the Luxembourgish nonwords fell below that of the native Luxembourgish speakers. These results are consistent with findings that phonological short-term memory performance is better for familiar rather than unfamiliar lexical material (Gathercole, 1995). As the Portuguese immigrant children and their monolingual peers from Luxembourg and Brazil performed at comparable levels on the working memory measures, their poor language performances in all three languages is unlikely to be related to a fundamental cognitive deficit. Their even lower knowledge of Portuguese, vocabulary than children from impoverished backgrounds in Brazil also rules out the hypothesis that their poor language skills are simply a reflection of lower socio-economical status. Instead, the findings appear to be a direct consequence of growing up as an immigrant in a multilingual society. [less ▲]

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See detailAre working memory measures free of socio-economic and cultural influence?
Engel de Abreu, Pascale UL; Gathercole; Santos, F et al

Scientific Conference (2008, January)

This research investigated the hypothesis that working memory skills are independent of environmental factors such as socio-economic status (SES) or cultural background. Twenty Brazilian children aged 6 ... [more ▼]

This research investigated the hypothesis that working memory skills are independent of environmental factors such as socio-economic status (SES) or cultural background. Twenty Brazilian children aged 6 and 7 years from low SES families were evaluated on measures of working memory (verbal short-term memory and verbal complex span, taken form the AWMA: Automated Working Memory Assessment) and of vocabulary (expressive and receptive). They were compared with typically developing Brazilian children from the same region but from families of higher SES and to a population of Portuguese- speaking, immigrant children growing up in Luxembourg/EU. Children were matched on age, sex, and nonverbal ability. The three groups differed significantly on the vocabulary measures but not on the verbal short-term memory tests. Further the groups differed on one of the two complex span measures – counting recall - but performed equally well on backwards digit recall. The results indicate that tests of verbal short-term memory and also backwards digit recall provide measures of cognitive abilities that are not biased by the quality of the child’s socio-economical or cultural background. As these measures are also highly sensitive to language ability, they may provide useful methods for diagnosing language disorder that are independent of environmental opportunity. [less ▲]

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See detailAre working memory measures free of socio-economic influence?
Engel de Abreu, Pascale UL; Santos, F. H.; Gathercole, S. E.

in Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing research (2008), 51(6), 1580-1587

PURPOSE: This study evaluated the impact of socioeconomic factors on children's performance on tests of working memory and vocabulary. METHOD: Twenty Brazilian children, aged 6 and 7 years, from low ... [more ▼]

PURPOSE: This study evaluated the impact of socioeconomic factors on children's performance on tests of working memory and vocabulary. METHOD: Twenty Brazilian children, aged 6 and 7 years, from low-income families, completed tests of working memory (verbal short-term memory and verbal complex span) and vocabulary (expressive and receptive). A further group of Brazilian children from families of higher socioeconomic status matched for age, gender, and nonverbal ability also participated in the study. RESULTS: Children from the low socioeconomic group obtained significantly lower scores on measures of expressive and receptive vocabulary than their higher income peers but no significant group differences were found on the working memory measures. CONCLUSION: Measures of working memory provide assessments of cognitive abilities that appear to be impervious to substantial differences in socioeconomic background. As these measures are highly sensitive to language ability and learning in general, they appear to provide useful methods for diagnosing specific learning difficulties that are independent of environmental opportunity [less ▲]

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See detailLinks between working memory, phonological awareness, and language learning
Engel de Abreu, Pascale UL; Gathercole, S. E.

Scientific Conference (2007, September)

The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between working memory, phonological awareness and developing language skills in a population of children growing up in a multilingual context ... [more ▼]

The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between working memory, phonological awareness and developing language skills in a population of children growing up in a multilingual context involving the three languages of Luxembourgish, German, and French. A sample of 122 children from Luxembourg aged 5 to 7 years participated in the study, completing assessments of phonological short-term memory, complex working memory, phonological awareness, native and foreign vocabulary knowledge, language comprehension and reading. The data were best characterized by a model of working memory that consisted of two related but separable components - corresponding to phonological short-term memory and the central executive - that were distinct from phonological awareness. Language abilities in both the native and foreign languages were more strongly associated with phonological short-term memory than other factors in the model. The findings lend strong support to the proposal that vocabulary learning in particular is mediated, in part at least, by phonological short-term memory. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 72 (1 UL)
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See detailARE WORKING MEMORY MEASURES FREE OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL INFLUENCES?
Engel de Abreu, Pascale UL; Santos, F; Martin, Romain UL et al

Scientific Conference (2007, September)

This research investigated the hypothesis that working memory skills are independent of environmental factors such as socio-economic or cultural background. Study 1: Twenty Brazilian children aged 6 and 7 ... [more ▼]

This research investigated the hypothesis that working memory skills are independent of environmental factors such as socio-economic or cultural background. Study 1: Twenty Brazilian children aged 6 and 7 years from low socio-economic status families were evaluated on measures of working memory (verbal short-term memory and verbal complex span, taken form the AWMA: Automated Working Memory Assessment) and of vocabulary (expressive and receptive). They were compared with typically developing Brazilian children from the same region, matched on age, sex, and nonverbal ability from families of higher socio-economic status. Children from the low socioeconomic status group obtained significantly lower scores on the vocabulary tests but not on the verbal short-term memory measures, compared to their peers from a higher socio-economical background. Both groups differed on one of the two complex span measures - counting recall - but performed equally well on backwards digit recall. The results indicate that tests of verbal short-term memory and also backwards digit recall provide measures of cognitive abilities that are not biased by the quality of the child's socio-economical background. Study 2: The Brazilian children were also compared to a population of Portuguese- speaking, immigrant children growing up in Luxembourg, evaluated on the same measures. Results will specify whether or not, in addition to being independent of socioeconomic background, verbal short-term memory and backwards digit recall are also free of cultural bias. As these measures are also highly sensitive to language ability, they may provide useful methods for diagnosing language disorder that are independent of environmental opportunity. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 71 (2 UL)
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See detailWorking memory, phonological awareness, and language learning
Engel de Abreu, Pascale UL; Gathercole, S. E.

Scientific Conference (2007, August)

This study investigated the relationship between working memory, phonological processing and developing language skills in a population of children growing up in a multilingual context involving the three ... [more ▼]

This study investigated the relationship between working memory, phonological processing and developing language skills in a population of children growing up in a multilingual context involving the three languages of Luxembourgish, German, and French. A sample of 122 children from Luxembourg, aged between 5 and 7 years, participated in the study, and completed assessments of phonological short-term memory, complex working memory, phonological awareness, native and foreign vocabulary knowledge, language comprehension and reading. The data were best characterized by a measurement model in which working memory consists of two related yet distinct components – corresponding to phonological short-term memory and a central executive – that were distinct from phonological awareness. Language abilities in both the native and foreign languages were more strongly associated with phonological short-term memory than other constructs in the model. The findings lend strong support to the proposal that vocabulary learning in particular is mediated in part at least by the phonological loop component of working memory. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 62 (1 UL)