Retrieval-induced forgetting and second language acquisition: Preliminary insights from a Welsh language word-learning study
Lyam Bailey1, Aaron J. Newman1; 1Dalhousie University
The current investigation explored the role of retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF), a process whereby retrieval of information from memory perturbs access to related material, in second language (L2) vocabulary acquisition. Prior research on bilingual subjects has indicated that retrieving words in one language may cause difficulties remembering equivalent words in another language (Levy et al. 2007, Psychological Science, 18). The potential involvement of RIF in early L2 acquisition remains to be investigated. Here, subjects learned novel Welsh words by means of picture-noun association training. In an adaptation of the traditional retrieval-practice RIF paradigm, half of the learned items were retrieved in participants’ first language (L1), prior to a final test of knowledge for all of the learned Welsh words. In two separate experiments, we used our adapted paradigm to investigate participants’ reaction times to all of the previously learned Welsh words at test, and later, their ability to recall these words in a written test. Our results show that participants exhibited significantly longer reaction times to learned words retrieved in L1 (compared to those that were not retrieved in L1), suggesting some degree of forgetting induced by L1 retrieval. These data provide the first tentative evidence that RIF may impact newly formed memory representations, and more generally act as a barrier to early L2 acquisition.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Other