Nonwords and narratives : English and Spanish recall tasks in bilingual children
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Both long-term language knowledge and language ability affect the efficiency of the working memory system (Kohnert, Windsor, & Yim, 2006; Summers, Bohman, Peña, Bedore, & Gillam, 2009). Models of working memory (Baddeley, 2003; Cowan, 1999; Potter & Lombardi, 1990) account for variations in how memory is used in nonword repetition (NWR) and narrative retell tasks. Use of working memory varies by language ability and language experience. The current study explored the role of working memory, language ability, and language experience on narrative retell in bilingual children. Eighty bilingual first grade children participated in the study and represented a wide range of language abilities as determined by the Bilingual English Spanish Assessment (Peña, Gutiérrez-Clellen, Iglesias, Goldstein & Bedore, in preparation) and a wide range of language experiences. The participants repeated nonwords (Calderón, 2003; Dollaghan & Campbell, 1998) and retold stories in both English and Spanish. Stories were scored based on the percent of key components (KC) that were recalled based on the model story. Results revealed that Ability predicted narrative retells in both English and Spanish. Current language experience also predicted English and Spanish retells. English NWR predicted narrative retell in English only. NWR did not mediate the effect of language ability or language experience on recalling KCs. Yet, English NWR did predict English KCs. These results support memory models that account for memory tasks using longer units of language (Cowan, 1999; Potter & Lombardi, 1990).