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The role of visuo-spatial and verbal working memory in L2 Japanese reading proficiency

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Title:The role of visuo-spatial and verbal working memory in L2 Japanese reading proficiency
Authors:Tsai, Aurora M.
Contributors:Brown, James D. (advisor)
Date Issued:2014
Abstract:Verbal working memory is recognized as a strong predictor of L2 reading development in the area of learning new vocabulary, reading comprehension, and overall L2 proficiency in alphabetic languages such as English. However, few studies have addressed if the same is true in logographic languages such as Japanese. Previous literature has indicated that phonology plays a weaker role in reading Japanese than alphabetic languages and that visual information is often processed for semantic rather than phonetic information. Based on these findings, it was hypothesized that visuo-spatial working memory would display a stronger relationship with Japanese reading proficiency than verbal working memory. This study investigated the relationship between (a) visuo-spatial working memory and Japanese reading proficiency and (b) verbal working memory and Japanese reading proficiency. Thirty learners of Japanese as a foreign language had their visuo-spatial working memory assessed using a spatial span task and a dual 3-back task. Their verbal working memory was assessed using an automated reading span task. Participants also took a Japanese cloze test and proficiency self-rating questionnaire to indicate their reading proficiency. Correlations were not found between the visuo-spatial working memory tasks and the Japanese cloze test, but a weak correlation was found between the verbal working memory task and the Japanese cloze test. Since the reading assessment used in this study had questionable validity, the hypothesis and research questions for this study could not be fully addressed. Suggestions are made for refining assessment tools and using other techniques to help us better understand of the relationship between working memory measures and Japanese reading proficiency.
Pages/Duration:38 pages
Appears in Collections: SLS Papers

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