Emotions and lexical memory

Heidi B. Kent


Is there a link between emotion and memory and, if so, can that link be leveraged in the language learning environment to facilitate the consolidation in memory of lexical semantic items in an L2? L2 subjects were given a list of vocabulary items to learn, including a translation of the vocabulary items. Next they were shown a reading passage which used the vocabulary in context. The participants twice heard an audio recording of the passage while they followed along with the text. Participants were divided into an experimental group, in which the audio recording accentuated the emotional content of the story, and a control group, in which the recording was presented in a neutral tone of voice. A posttest, then delayed posttest, assessed how well the subjects remembered the items.

My hypothesis was that the style of audio reading accompanying the written text (emotional or neutral) would influence the results on a posttest and a delayed posttest on the vocabulary used in the passage. However, the hypothesis was not supported.

Results are discussed in terms of other learning benefits to enhancing the emotional content of the text, which the students in the experimental group found to be more engaging and interesting. Furthermore, methodological issues are examined.


neurolinguistics, memory, vocabulary acquisition, computer assisted language learning

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Working Papers of the Linguistics Circle

EISSN: 1920-440X
ISSN: 1200-3344

University of Victoria