Phonological working memory: A critical building block for reading development and vocabulary acquisition?

  • Susan E. Gathercole
  • Alan D. Baddeley


In this article we review findings from a recent longitudinal study of the contribution of phonological working memory to vocabulary acquisition and reading development. A total of 80 children were tested initially at school entry at the age of four years, and were tested in three further waves at ages 5, 6, and 8 years. The results indicate that phonological memory skills constrain vocabulary growth during the first year or so in school but that subsequently, vocabulary knowledge is a pacemaker in the development relationship with memory. Phonological memory skill in prereading children was found to be significantly linked with scores on a reading test at age 8 which encourages the use of a phonological recoding strategy. The theoretical and practical implications of the findings, and important areas for future research, are discussed.

Key words

Phonological memory Reading Vocabulary 


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan E. Gathercole
    • 1
  • Alan D. Baddeley
    • 2
  1. 1.University of BristolBristolUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Applied Psychology UnitMRCCambridgeUK

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