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The role of phonological memory in vocabulary acquisition: A study of young children learning new names.
Gathercole, S.E. & Baddeley, A.D.
British Journal of Psychology, 81, 439-454.
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Correlational studies have suggested that immediate phonological memory, as measured by the capacity to repeat back non-words varying in length, is associated with level of vocabulary in young children. The present study explores the possibility of a causal relationship between phonological memory and vocabulary acquisition by testing the abilities of children high and low in repetition performance to learn labels for unfamiliar toy animals. The low repetition children were found to be slower at learning phonologically unfamiliar names such as 'Pimas' for the toys, although there was no difference in learning speed for familiar names such as 'Thomas'. The two groups also differed one day later in their retention of the labels that had initially been learned. These results suggest that immediate memory processes are directly involved in the learning of new vocabulary items in young children. The possible nature of the contribution of temporary phonological memory to vocabulary acquisition is discussed.