Recently a number of quasi-experimental studies have investigated the potential of a cross-modality transfer of second language competency between real-time, conversational exchange via text and speech (Abrams, 2003; Beauvious, 1998; Kost, 2004; Payne & Whitney, 2002). Payne and Whitney employed Levelt's (1989) model of language production and concepts from working memory as a rationale for a hypothesized connection between synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) and second language (L2) speech and as a basis for predicting the differential contributions of SCMC to the L2 oral proficiency development. This study extends the psycholinguistic framework reported in Payne and Whitney (2002) with discourse and corpus analytic techniques to explore how individual differences in working memory capacity may affect the frequency of repetition and other patterns of language use in chatroom discourse. Working memory capacity was measured by a reading span and nonword repetition test. Oral proficiency was measured with a speaking task that solicited a 5-minute speech sample and was scored based on a holistic scale. The data collected from 20 chat sessions were analyzed for occurrences of repetition and relexicalization, as well as language output measures. Findings suggest a connection between working memory and language output as measured in this study.
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