• Dr. V.S. Gayathri

All About Phonological Working Memory!

Updated: Jul 1

When we read or hear something, there are different ways in which our brain interprets, processes and stores information. In this process, phonological working memory comes into play, especially for kids when they are learning. We always use it, but we might not be fully aware about it.

Let us understand more about phonological working memory.

What is phonological working memory?

Phonological working memory means storing phoneme information in a temporary, short-term memory store. This information is then readily available for manipulation during phonological awareness tasks.

For example, when we recall a phone number or an address, this working memory is used. Here memory is temporarily stored and accessed when required. Hence, we have mentioned that it is very important for the learning in kids.

According to a study, phonological processing deficits are recognized as the marker of developmental Dyslexia. This deficit can be associated with the difficulties of reading, decoding which can lead to delay and inaccuracy in word recognition.

Let us look at how it impacts dyslexic learner.

What happens to dyslexic learners in the classroom?

Difficulty in storing information- Mostly, we can store only 5 to 7 chunks of information in the working memory. But, for dyslexic learners it is as low as 3. They often struggle to recall information as they cannot store information.

Appears as if not paying attention in class- They appear to pay attention and focus in the class, but actually their working memory is either not functional or working at a very low capacity.

Difficulty to follow series of instructions- Dyslexic learners are not too good with instructions because they fail to store the information of serial instructions and hence face difficulty in executing them.

Difficulty with mental arithmetic- They face problem in mathematical calculations and instructions as they are not able to store sufficient information in their working memory.

Reduced Comprehension- They face difficulty in reading comprehension as they are not able to recall the information that they have read and interpret that.

How can we help dyslexic learners?

Break into small steps- Give them smaller chunks of information to process by breaking bigger tasks into smaller ones.

Write out the steps in Maths- For mathematical instructions and problems, write the steps down rather then verbally telling them. This will help them to visualize and respond.

Difficulty with dictation- For their difficulty in dictation, please give them time and go slow. Read sentences and words aloud so that they can identify the phonic sound properly and process.

Ask for written notes from the teacher- Ask for notes from the teacher beforehand, so that you can prepare them before the class. This will also help them to complete the notes at regular intervals and not feel left out in the class.

Support dyslexic learners in the classroom- In the classroom setup, they should not feel left out. Involve them more and try to understand their difficulty so that you can address them properly.

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