Turn on your TAP: memory in language processing

Danuta Gabryś-Barker


Memory has always constituted an important aspect of research on language acquisition and learning. Traditionally, this research looks at the processes involved in memorising language elements, that is, memory learning strategies in FL vocabulary acquisition or the processes involved in the recall of language, for example retrieval strategies. In descriptions of language processing, models created have highlighted ways of memory functioning at different stages of incoming data-processing, thus focusing on short term memory (STM) and
long term memory (LTM) and the relations between the two. Individual learner
differences at the level of cognitive styles have also been investigated in relation
to memory as a significant variable in learning and language production. The
above mentioned areas of research are most frequently investigated by means of different retrospective techniques.
This paper is also concerned with language processing and the ways STM is
activated but on this occasion simultaneously with exposure to a language
task to be performed. The main objective of the paper is to demonstrate how
simultaneous introspection as a research method can inform us about these
processes and the functioning of memory. It looks at selected research projects
using simultaneous introspection and think-aloud protocols (TAP-s) as ways of
collecting and analysing data in a multilingual context of language production.
The aim of the paper is not however to discuss the findings and to answer the
research questions posed in my own research over the period 1993-2005 but
to show the general validity of TAP data in studying memory and language
activation processes.

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ISSN: 1646-6195