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Title: Links between memory and the acquisition of English as a foreign language
Author: Landau, Tamar
ISNI:       0000 0004 2712 2200
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2010
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Relationships between (levels of) EFL performance and memory were explored in six EFL pupils aged between seventeen to eighteen years old in their last year of high school. The pupils were given multiple memory assessments to establish memory ability and multiple EFL assessments to establish levels of EFL performance in reading, listening comprehension and speech. The tests were first quantified and then the pupils' performance was analyzed qualitatively in a method of multiple cross case analysis. Qualitative analyses of six case studies suggest that phonological processing, phonological memory in general and phonological working memory in particular, have an underlying influence on EFL performance. The proposed explanatory link between the phonological aspects of memory and EFL ability is a theorized inner voice factor which facilitates the acquisition of EFL through processes of lexical and phonological priming. Lexical and phonological priming processes were seen to impact all aspects of EFL looked at in this research: vocabulary, syntax, sentence processing (perception and production) and reading. The impact of inner voice on vocabulary acquisition is twofold. First, it triggers appropriate collocates in a cumulative manner. Second, it facilitates intact decoding which enhances learning of new vocabulary provided in written form. The impact of inner voice on syntactic knowledge is by triggering appropriate sentential colligates. Inner voice, as underlying decoding processes, is also suggested as having a significant function in reading ability. Phonological processing is suggested as prerequisite for auditory verbal memory which was seen to have an impact on speech perception and production. The proposed explanatory link between auditory verbal memory and speech performance is auditory word recognition. Visual memory is seen to impact both vocabulary acquisition and reading separately. Two links between visual memory and vocabulary acquisition are suggested: visual spatial memory is proposed as facilitating memory for word configurations and visual sequential memory as underlying orthographic awareness. Importantly, it is proposed that visual memory itself is facilitated when supported by phonological memory in the process of reading. Visual memory is also suggested as facilitating reading comprehension processes by applying visual strategies. The central executive function is seen to enhance all aspects of EFL performance which require processing, control, attention switching and retrieval from long-term memory. However, intact central executive function cannot come into play effectively when the elements for integration are imperfect. Inappropriate learning strategies such as list learning and translation strategy were seen to inhibit EFL acquisition even when memory was intact. In the light of the above, it is suggested that the phonological aspects of processing and memory are the most significant factors underlying EFL performance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available