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Alliteration and assonance as mnemonic devices in second language word-pair learning

Green, Michael 2022. Alliteration and assonance as mnemonic devices in second language word-pair learning. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The central question addressed in this thesis is to what extent phonological patterns, in particular alliteration and assonance, aid the recall and retention of word pairs for Japanese L1 learners of English. The research builds on previous findings from a series of classroom-based quasi-experimental work, principally from the team of Boers, Lindstromberg and Eyckmans, which shows a mnemonic advantage for collocations and compounds that have phonological patterns, compared to equivalent word strings with no phonological overlap. This advantage appears in both free- and cued-recall tests, and across a variety of temporal intervals (up to two weeks). Much of the prior research has drawn participant samples from a Dutch L1 speaking population. Furthermore, these studies have mainly used target items deemed to be familiar to the participants. This thesis is motivated by the need to question if the previous empirical findings generalise to a population whose L1 phonological constructs are different from those of Dutch L1 speakers. The purpose is to test if Japanese L1 speakers have a different perception of alliteration and assonance, and if so, whether this impacts on their learning behaviour. A further aim is to investigate whether the mnemonic effect applies to unfamiliar target items. In addition, the thesis considers the extent to which the cognitive process of form-based priming underpins the mnemonic effect. A series of four experiments are conducted which progressively examine the processing advantage conferred by alliterating and assonating patterns. Different sets of experimental stimuli are used, including high-frequency, low-frequency, and pseudoword items. Treatment phases often incorporate a dictation activity when using familiar word stimuli, or a study phase when using unfamiliar stimuli. A variety of testing instruments are adopted to measure recall of the written forms of the stimuli, or the forms plus meanings of novel stimuli, over differing periods of time. One study uses a Lexical Decision Task to ascertain if phonological patterns aid lexical processing. Overall, the findings indicate that phonological patterns do confer a small mnemonic advantage for known stimuli, though the effect dissipates with time. However, the extent to which orthographic similarity plays a facilitatory role remains unclear. When participants are asked to learn novel word-pairs the results are more ambiguous; alliteration seems to have a greater mnemonic effect than assonance, but the cognitive challenge of learning new material appears to mitigate any robust mnemonic effects. The data from the Lexical Decision Task do not support any strong claims that perceptual priming is the determining factor for the processing advantage. In answer to the central question, it can be inferred from the findings that both phonological and orthographic patterns are a useful pedagogical tool for helping language learners recall and retain multi-word strings.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 May 2023
Last Modified: 22 May 2023 14:46

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