KYRIA FINARDI Information Processing Theory Issues Permeating Working Memory Capacity and L2 Speech Performance and Acquisition 241
241 KYRIA FINARDI Information Processing Theory Issues Permeating Working Memory Capacity and L2 Speech Performance and Acquisition 1. Introduction Cogito ergo sum Descartes (1637, in Ashcraft 1994: 15) Descartes reminds us that the ultimate proof of human existence is our ability to think. A quick look at any encyclopedia will tell the informed reader that what makes us human is the fact that we think, learn and use language in creative ways. Among the many activities in which human beings engage in daily, perhaps speaking is one of the most common and important (Levelt, 1989), and yet, it has re- ceived comparatively less attention from research than other recep- tive skills (Bock, 1996; Crookes, 1991; Fortkamp, 2000). It is not surprising, therefore, that researchers have pointed out the need to view speaking as a skill that should be investigated in its own right (Bygate, 2001; Fortkamp, 2000). When it comes to speaking a second/foreign language (hence- forth L2), the panorama that emerges is even more complex, since speaking an L2 offers all the challenges of speaking a first language (hereafter L1) plus more (Fortkamp, 1999, 2000), rendering this ability an even more complex skill. In the field of L2 teaching / learning, learners’ proficiency level is assessed as how fluent they are (Lennon,1999), thus, among the four abilities usually taught, speaking seems to be one (if not the most) important skill to be mastered (Bygate, 2001; Fortkamp, 2000) according to learners who seem to engage in L2 learning so...
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