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Trainability in lexical specificity mediates between short-term memory and both vocabulary and rhyme awareness

Van Goch, M. M., Verhoeven, L., & McQueen, J. M. (2017). Trainability in lexical specificity mediates between short-term memory and both vocabulary and rhyme awareness. Learning and Individual Differences, 57, 163-169. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2017.05.008.
A major goal in the early years of elementary school is learning to read, a process in which children show substantial individual differences. To shed light on the underlying processes of early literacy, this study investigates the interrelations among four known precursors to literacy: phonological short-term memory, vocabulary size, rhyme awareness, and trainability in the phonological specificity of lexical representations, by means of structural equation modelling, in a group of 101 4-year-old children. Trainability in lexical specificity was assessed by teaching children pairs of new phonologically-similar words. Standardized tests of receptive vocabulary, short-term memory, and rhyme awareness were used. The best-fitting model showed that trainability in lexical specificity partially mediated between short-term memory and both vocabulary size and rhyme awareness. These results demonstrate that individual differences in the ability to learn phonologically-similar new words are related to individual differences in vocabulary size and rhyme awareness.
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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