Working Memory Capacity and the Development of L2 Speech Production: A Study of Individual Differences
Janaina Weissheimer and Mailce Borges Mota
169-181 (complete paper
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This study investigates the relationship between working memory capacity and L2 speech development. More specifically, it addresses the question of how working memory capacity and L2 speech production covary over a period of time, during learners' L2 speech development. 45 Brazilian learners of English as an L2 were submitted to two data collection phases, each one consisting of a working memory test (an adaptation of Daneman's 1991 speaking span test) and a speech generation task, with a twelve-week interval between the two data collections. Participants' speaking samples were analyzed in terms of fluency, accuracy, complexity, and weighted lexical density. The results, in general terms, show that both lower and higher span individuals experienced some increase in L2 speech production scores from phase one to phase two of the experiment. However, only lower span participants had a statistically significant improvement in working memory scores over trials. In addition, working memory capacity was related to the development of complexity in speakers' L2 speech.
Selected Proceedings of the 2010 Second Language Research Forum: Reconsidering SLA Research, Dimensions, and Directions
edited by Gisela Granena, Joel Koeth, Sunyoung Lee-Ellis, Anna Lukyanchenko, Goretti Prieto Botana, and Elizabeth Rhoades
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