Date of Award
The development of phonological memory, a subdivision of short term memory, is crucial to learning and analyzing sequences of sounds to form words and phrases. This process utilizes short term representation and rehearsal to allow for the eventual long term representation of language. Individuals learning more than one language must acquire even more of these language sequences than monolinguals. Previous research agrees that early Spanish-English bilinguals have superior phonological memory to monolinguals, however the impact of second language acquisition on phonological memory remains unknown. This study examined three groups of undergraduate participants studying Spanish as a second language including study abroad students (SA), students currently enrolled in a Spanish course at or above the 300-level (CE), and students not currently enrolled in a Spanish course (NE). Participants completed tests of phonological memory including digit span and sentence repetition at the beginning and culmination of an academic semester. Participants also provided demographic data, L2 acquisition information, and their frequency of language use so that changes could be calculated. Results revealed that CE students were superior during pretest, but during posttest SA and CE demonstrated comparable results. The NE students demonstrated consistently lower scores. These findings suggest that foreign language instruction may benefit phonological memory development, even in late acquisition of the second language. The possible role of years of formal language instruction will be discussed.
Westerhoff, Madeline, "Late L2 Acquisition and Phonological Memory Development" (2017). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 402.