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Growth in working memory and inhibition predicts literacy in English language learners: A cross-sectional and longitudinal study

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The purpose of this study was to determine whether cross-sectional and growth effects in second language (L2) literacy are related to the executive component of working memory (WM) and whether inhibition may underlie the links between WM and reading in children whose first language (L1) is Spanish. Elementary school children (grades 1, 2 and 3) were administered a battery of cognitive [WM, short-term memory (STM), random generation, rapid naming, phonological processing], vocabulary and reading measures in both Spanish (L1) and English (L2) in Year 1 and again one year later. The regression analyses showed that L2 growth in WM significantly predicted growth in L2 reading skills even when inhibition was controlled. Further, the contributions of WM to reading growth in both L1 and L2 reading were independent of cross-language skills in phonological processing, STM, oral language and naming speed. Overall, the results suggest the mental activities that underlie WM and inhibition in predictions of L2 literacy reflect independent executive processes.
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Keywords: English language learners; L2 reading; Phonological; Working memory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Educational Psychology, University of California-Riverside, Rivserside, CA, USA

Publication date: July 4, 2015

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