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Phonological short-term memory, working memory and foreign language performance in intensive language learning*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2008

Lancaster University
Department of English Applied Linguistics, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
Address for correspondence: Judit Kormos, Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University, LA1 4YT,


In our research we addressed the question what the relationship is between phonological short-term and working memory capacity and performance in an end-of-year reading, writing, listening, speaking and use of English test. The participants of our study were 121 secondary school students aged 15–16 in the first intensive language training year of a bilingual education program in Hungary. The participants performed a non-word repetition test and took a Cambridge First Certificate Exam. Fifty students were also tested with a backward digit span test, measuring their working memory capacity. Our study indicates that phonological short-term memory capacity plays a different role in the case of beginners and pre-intermediate students in intensive language learning. The backward digit span test correlated very highly with the overall English language competence, as well as with reading, listening, speaking and use of English (vocabulary and grammar) test scores.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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Judit Kormos has been supported in writing this article by the Bolyai Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.


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