Longitudinal relations between verbal working memory and reading in students from diverse linguistic backgrounds. Academic Article uri icon


  • The current research tracked kindergarteners into Grade 4 to investigate the longitudinal relations between reading and verbal working memory (VWM). The samples for investigation included the overall weighted sample, English monolingual (EL1) learners, language minority learners with high English proficiency (HP-LM), and language minority learners with persistently low English proficiency (LP-LM). We first investigated the growth factor relation between VWM and reading and then examined the cross-lagged relations between the two skills in different groups. Results suggested that VWM and reading growth could be separated into the initial phase (kindergarten to Grade 1) and the consolidation phase (end of Grade 1 to Grade 4). Despite the growth rate relation between VWM and reading starting to decline at the consolidation phase for EL1 and HP-LM learners, a moderate growth rate relation was able to remain for LP-LM learners. However, the effects of early VWM on later reading were either small (βs ≤ 0.15) or nonsignificant. In addition, the earlier reading skills were not predictive of later VWM. We suggest that the bidirectional relation between VWM and reading is a codevelopment process rather than a causal factor of each other. However, the process of acquiring basic reading skills and the shaping of VWM influence each other irrespective of linguistic background. Implications for intervention and suggestions for future research are provided.

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, S., & Malatesha Joshi, R.

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Shuai||Malatesha Joshi, R

publication date

  • January 1, 2019 11:11 AM