Memory and Language


Our journey into the fundamental cognitive functions required for proper language development continues.

This time, we’ll be discussing Memory!

This cognitive ability, like attention, serves as the foundation for everything we learn and every simple daily activity.

As a result, language is particularly affected: memory difficulties can lead to language problems.

What exactly is memory?

Memory is the ability to remember and store experiences and information so that we can use them in similar situations in the future.

For example, if a child burns his hand after touching something very hot (for example, the oven door), he will store a series of information that will allow him to act differently (e.g. not touching) if he finds himself in the same or similar situation again.

Memory is with us from the moment we are born and is a critical skill in learning all behaviours.

However, there are different types of memory: the two most important for language acquisition and learning, as well as reading and writing skills, are short-term memory and working memory.


What exactly is short-term memory?

Short-term memory allows us to hold a limited amount of information in our heads for approximately 30 seconds.

simply consider the times when you need to copy a phone number from one sheet to another or write something that someone is saying.

On average, an adult is able to keep 5 to 9 items in their short-term memory.

Let’s try this:

Try reading the following numbers once, then repeating them without looking:


Did you make it?

It should have been a simple task, but if I asked you to remember them (without re-reading) at the end of the article, it would be more difficult. This is due to the fact that if we want to keep the information in our memory for a longer period of time, we must repeat and repeat it; otherwise, it will be lost after 30 seconds.

What exactly is working memory?

Let’s start with an example:

Try reading these numbers once and then repeating them from the last to the first (without looking). [e.g. 342 → 243]


I’m sure it was harder than the first test. This is due to the fact that you had to not only retain information in your memory, but also process it. You were able to accomplish this because of your working memory.

Working memory enables us to process or manipulate information from our short-term memory in order to comprehend, learn, or reason about it.

This, combined with repetition of that information, may led it to remain in memory for a longer period of time (long-term).


But how do these different types of memory influence language and learning?

If your child has problems with short-term memory or working memory, he or she may experience the following difficulties:

  • Not remembering all of the components of a given instruction (for example, if you tell them “Go to your room and get your book, notebook and pen” they may come back with only one or two of these objects)
  • Having trouble understanding stories because they can’t recall the main points.
  • Having a hard time understanding the lessons
  • Having a hard time making mind maths calculations
  • Possible difficulties in reading and writing

In the following article, I’ll show you some fun and educational play activities that will help your child exercise their short-term and working memory while having fun and learning.

See you soon!