[PS-1.14] Phonological awareness and working memory as predictors of dyslexia in Arabic-speaking preschoolers in Egypt

Arrastia-Lloyd, M. C. 1 , Zayed, A. 2 , Roehrig, A. 1 & Gilgil, N. 2

1 The Florida State University
2 Kafrelsheikh University

Although the relationship between phonological awareness and working memory is well-documented in the English language, the relationship between the two variables in the Arabic language has had less attention (Zayed, Roehrig, Arrastia-Lloyd, & Gilgil, in press). This study examined the relationship between the predictors, phonological awareness and working memory, and the diagnosis of dyslexia in Arabic-speaking preschool children. The sample consisted of 40 preschoolers (randomly selected from a larger sample of 425) from seven preschools in Northern Egypt. All children were prescreened with a battery of tests including general intelligence (IQ), the Dyslexia Early Screening Test (DEST; Nicolson & Fawcett, 2002), the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children (WISC-III; Wechsler, 1997), a phonological awareness test in Arabic (Hanna Ezzat, 2005), as well as the Working Memory Test Battery for Children (WMTB-C; Pickering & Gathercole, 2001). A binomial logistic regression model was conducted to explore the relationship between phonological awareness and working memory for children at-risk for dyslexia and their counterparts. When working memory tasks (i.e. backward digit recall task, counting recall task, and listening recall task) were added to the regression model after phonological awareness tasks (i.e. rhyme detection task, syllable blending task, phoneme isolation task, and phoneme blending task), the phoneme blending task no longer contributed to the model. The phoneme isolation task (p < .001) was found to be the best predictor of risk status for dyslexia with scores for phonological awareness tasks and working memory tasks together explained about 94% of the variance in DEST scores. Implications of the findings in an international context will also be presented.