Attentional and Immediate Memory Capacity Limitations in the Acquisition of Non-Native Linguistic Contrasts

Jordan SchoenherrCarleton University
John LoganCarleton University

Abstract

The acquisition of a non-native phonetic distinction by second-language learners relies on basic sensory and perceptual processes. In the present study we examined whether central capacity limitations in attention and immediate memory affected both metalinguistic awareness of phonemic properties of stimuli and the ease with which listeners could perceptually reorganize native phonemic categories. Immediate memory was positively related to performance when listeners had to monitor their performance whereas attention was positively related to performance in identifying stimuli along the acoustic continuum.

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