Linguistic Foundation’s March 4th Blog noted some of the Language Skills and Cognitive-Thinking Abilities that are a fundamental part of the Reading and Writing Process.
Language Skills Cognitive Abilities
*Phonological Awareness *Retrieval
*Vocabulary *Working Memory
*Knowledge of Sentences *Organizational Skills
Blogs from October 29th, November 13th, and December 12th related directly to Phonological Awareness. Retrieval was described on March 19th. This Blog will touch upon Working Memory (I want to acknowledge that I am not expert on the complex mechanisms of the neuroscience of memory and will provide a rough outline of working memory as it relates to literacy).
Working Memory weakness is often a factor for a student with Dyslexia or other Language-Based Learning Disability. Memory is, of course, crucial for learning. But the term Memory also refers to different thinking abilities. Long-term Memory, for example, helps us recall events to retell stories and to remember vocabulary we have learned. Working Memory refers to an immediate, brief, and mostly unconscious capacity to maintain information. The Working part of Working Memory means that we perform some thinking process on that information while we have it in mind.
Working Memory most easily shows it itself in some of the fundamental Language-based activities that a student does. She needs Working Memory to keep all the sounds of a word in mind (/c/-/a/-/t/>cat or /com/-/pute/>compute) or to accurately recall and work with grammar and sentence structure.
A student who possesses Working Memory weakness may attempt to decode or sound-out dog. By the time she reaches the /g/-sound, she has lost the /d/ and only recalls og (/d/-/o/-/g/>og).
Working Memory may also affect a student’s grammar development because of difficulty keeping grammatical endings and word order in mind. Recalling and completing a process (such as a recipe or set of directions) may also be limited by Working Memory considerations.
Working Memory ability gives a clue as to how complex Literacy development and growth is. It is an ability that all of us possess, and we generally are born with a specific capacity or level of natural ability. While we can improve our Vocabulary or Phonological Awareness knowledge, we generally have to work with the Working Memory capacity with which we were born.
A student with Working Memory weakness can be successful Readers and Writers, but all aspects of her learning need to be adapted to allow her to overlearn some information or to bypass Working Memory weaknesses.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child, whether she is an early reader, a middle/high school student, or post-secondary learner, please contact Linguistic Foundations. We can help to clarify how Working Memory can be impacting your child in school. Our Evaluation Process can also clarify your child’s Language- and Literacy-based learning and help you develop an effective Instructional Plan for your child. Thank you very much!