Letter to the Editor  |   October 2008
Reflections on Phonological Working Memory, Letter Knowledge, and Phonological Awareness: A Reply to Hartmann (2008)
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Susan Rvachew
    McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Meghann Grawburg
    Tauranga Hospital, Tauranga, New Zealand
  • Contact author: Susan Rvachew, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University, 1266 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1A8, Canada. E-mail: susan.rvachew@mcgill.ca.
Development / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Letter to the Editor   |   October 2008
Reflections on Phonological Working Memory, Letter Knowledge, and Phonological Awareness: A Reply to Hartmann (2008)
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research October 2008, Vol.51, 1219-1226. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/07-0158)
History: Accepted 02 Mar 2008 , Received 03 Jul 2007
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research October 2008, Vol.51, 1219-1226. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/07-0158)
History: Accepted 02 Mar 2008 , Received 03 Jul 2007

Purpose: S. Rvachew and M. Grawburg (2006)  found that speech perception and vocabulary skills jointly predicted the phonological awareness skills of children with a speech sound disorder. E. Hartmann (2008)  suggested that the Rvachew and Grawburg model would be improved by the addition of phonological working memory. Hartmann further suggested that the link between phoneme awareness and letter knowledge should be modeled as a reciprocal relationship. In this letter, Rvachew and Grawburg respond to Hartmann’s suggestions for modification of the model.

Method: The literature on the role of phonological working memory in the development of vocabulary knowledge and phonological awareness was reviewed. Data presented previously by Rvachew and Grawburg (2006)  and Rvachew (2006)  were reanalyzed.

Results: The reanalysis of previously reported longitudinal data revealed that the relationship between letter knowledge and specific aspects of phonological awareness was not reciprocal for kindergarten-age children with a speech sound disorder.

Conclusions: Phonological working memory, if measured so that relative performance levels do not reflect differences in articulatory accuracy, may not alter the model because of its close correspondence with speech perception skills. However, further study of the hypothesized causal relationships modeled by Rvachew and Grawburg (2006)  would be valuable, especially if experimental research designs were used.

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