The Role of Verbal Working Memory in Second Language Reading Fluency and Comprehension: A Comparison of English and Korean

Hye K. PAE, Rose A. SEVCIK


This study examined the respective contribution of verbal working memory, which was operationalized as immediate digit and sentence recall, to bilingual children’s reading fluency and comprehension in the first language (L1) and second language (L2). Fifty children from two international sites took part in this study: One group was English-Korean bilinguals in the U.S., while the other was Korean-English bilinguals in Korea. The manifestation of the prediction model varied across the learning contexts or learner groups. L1 forward and backward digit spans accounted for the significant variances in L2 reading fluency and comprehension for the English-speaking children in the U.S., whereas L1 forward digit span was more predictive of L2 reading fluency and comprehension than backward digit span and sentence recall for the Korean-speaking counterparts in Korea. The results were interpreted with respect to the orthographic depth, linguistic differences, and cognitive demands. Implications and future directions are discussed.


Reading Fluency And Comprehension; English-Korean Bilinguals; Korean-English Bilinguals; Verbal Memory

Paper Details

Paper Details
Topic EU Education Programs
Pages 47 - 65
Issue IEJEE, Volume 4, Issue 1, Special Issue Reading Comprehension
Date of acceptance 01 October 2011
Read (times) 462
Downloaded (times) 429

Author(s) Details

Hye K. PAE

University of Cincinnati, United States


Georgia State University, United States


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