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Studying texts in a second language: No disadvantage in long-term recognition memory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 October 2017

Ghent University, Belgium
Ghent University, Belgium
Ghent University, Belgium
Address for correspondence: Heleen Vander Beken, Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, B-9000 Genr,


Despite an increase in bilingualism and the use of English as a medium of instruction, little research has been done on bilingual memory for learnt information. In a previous study, we found an L2 recall cost but equal recognition performance in L2 versus L1 when students studied short expository texts (Vander Beken & Brysbaert, 2017). In this paper, we investigate whether there is a recognition cost after a longer delay, which would indicate that the memory trace is weaker in L2. Results showed equal performance in L1 and L2, suggesting that the recall cost is either located at the production level, or that the levels-of-processing effect is mediated by language, with unaffected surface encoding leading to effective marginal knowledge on the one hand, and hampered deep encoding leading to ineffective (uncued) recall. This paper also contains the Dutch vocabulary test we used for native speakers.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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*This study was supported by a GOA grant from the Research Council of Ghent University (LEMMA Project).


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