The Role of Memory in Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition
The aim of this paper is to explore the mechanisms our memory activates to process and organize new information in an attempt to extrapolate all this knowledge to the second language vocabulary acquisition. Although a large number of studies have been carried out in order to explore and analyse human memory, it seems obvious that it remains a somehow mysterious area in our brain. Taking on board Russell's argument (1987: 81), "without it [memory] there would be no learning from experience, no intellectual functioning, no development of language, nor any of the qualities that are generally associated with being human", it is perhaps worthwhile to delve into the memory field not only from a lexical point of view but from a more general perspective. The first part of this paper thus offers a brief description of the general features of human memory and the processes it carries out to encode and manipulate information. Secondly, we focus our attention on the specific area in our memory which processes, stores and retrieves vocabulary, i.e. the so-called "mental lexicon" (Aitchison, 1994). Finally, in the light of the psycholinguistic theories explained, we will pay attention to some practical implications for second language vocabulary learning. NOTE: This study is part of a wider online project on vocabulary development called ADELEX -"Assessing and Developing Lexical Competence ".
Keywords: Memory Processes, Second Language, Vocabulary Acquisition
María Moreno Jaén
Postgraduate student, Department of English Philology, University of Granada