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Evaluating a Capacity Measure for Interpreting Research – Bilingual Digit Recall

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Michael Jin


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Correlational and individual difference approaches have been major methodologies in interpreting research, in which people aim to isolate the key component skills and identify specific capacity differences between interpreters and proficient bilinguals. If these skills are proved critical, they could have implications for trainee selection, interpreting training or even aptitude prediction.Digit span and reading span in L2 were found to be correlated with SI performance (Christoffels, De Groot, & Waldorp, 2003). Since working memory span is thought to be affected by L2 proficiency (Service, Simola, Metsänheimo, & Maury, 2002), this correlation may be largely accounted for by the verbal ability difference alone. If this is the case, bilingual digit span may be less subject to confounds and better in representing working memory efficiency in a bilingual context. The present study can be seen as a pilot study, as Chinese-English bilingual digit span with translation conditions has not been reported. It was aimed to firstly, examine well-documented word length effect observed in short-term memory task; secondly, to investigate modality effect and strategy use in rehearsing to-be-remembered items.The present study adapted the paradigm used in Ellis and Hennelly's (1980) study, whose main findings were:First, Welsh-English bilinguals produced lower digit span when translation was required. Second, translation into their more familiar language is faster than that in the reverse direction. Finally, the span difference between two languages was attributed to word length effect of digit words.This present study did not replicate Ellis and Hennelly's main finding – word length effect, and digit span did not differ significantly between same-language conditions and translation conditions. Modality effect was only found in Chinese-into-Chinese and Chinese-into-English conditions. Interestingly, digit span of English-into-Chinese was much better than that of Chinese-into-English condition in visual block of tests. The result of the second experiment suggests that their rehearsal language for digits was Chinese when English digit words were presented visually.The models of working memory, bilingualism (Revised Hierarchical Model), and task procedure are taken into account for interpreting the result. And its implication for further research will be discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jin Y-S, Logie HR, Corley M

Editor(s): Pellatt, V., Minelli, E.

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: The Bath Symposium

Year of Conference: 2008

Pages: 145-156

Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781847188328