Working memory's meager involvement in sentence repetition tests

Abstract

Elicited imitation (EI) is a testing method for learners' oral language proficiency. One common criticism aimed at EI is that performance might not require linguistic knowledge, but mere rote memorization. This study explores the issue by administering two tests to the same group of students studying English as a second language: (1) a working memory test, and (2) an English EI test. Participants came from a range of English language proficiency levels. Our goal was to test whether scores from these two treatments (English EI scores and working memory scores) would correlate significantly. If not, this would suggest that there is some difference in what they measure. The results did fail to show a significant correlation between working memory and English EI scores. On the other hand, there was a significantly positive correlation between students' English EI scores and their placement level.


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