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Cognitive Abilities: Different Memory Functions and Language Aptitude

  • Victoria AmeringerEmail author
Chapter
Part of the English Language Education book series (ELED, volume 16)

Abstract

Past research on language aptitude has intensely focused on individual differences (IDs) since these are regarded as crucial predictors for an individual’s innate ability to acquire a foreign language. This paper investigates memory as an essential ID, as it was found to be a fundamental element by previous research, and presents novel, empirical evidence on the influence that both memory and education have on language aptitude. Specifically, the primary foci lie on both verbal working memory (WM) and declarative memory (DM) capacity, and on the effects that both the length and type of education have on these memory systems. It is hypothesised that a greater capacity of verbal WM and DM leads to a higher language aptitude, and that a longer and a higher education level increases the capacities of both memory systems which, in turn, also augments language aptitude. Research was conducted by testing a homogenous sample of 30 participants, which was split into equally sized groups differing in educational status (workers without an academic background and university students). The analyses revealed that DM capacity is a predictor for language aptitude in contrast to verbal WM, which was against expectations due to previous findings in the field. Furthermore, both a longer and a higher education level were found to mutually increase these memory capacities and language aptitude.

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics & Department of English and American StudiesUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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