The Role of L2 and Cultural Awareness in Memory Recall: A Cross-Cultural Study

Authors: Chun-yin Doris Chen, Ching-Te Angelina Yang (National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan)
Speakers: Chun-yin Doris Chen
Strand: Language, Contact and Change
Session Type: General Session


Past literature on memory research has primarily focused on the subjects of emotions and parent-child memory sharing but has yet to account for the cross-cultural effects on L2 learners’ performance on memory recall. Therefore, the present study aims to identify the role of an L2 in terms of cultural awareness and memory recall. A total of 48 participants were recruited and grouped into the Sinosphere group and the Non-Sinosphere group, each consisting of 16 participants. Additionally, 16 L1 Mandarin speakers from Taiwan served as the control group. Participants were asked to complete a two-phase experiment involving a survey and a memory recall task. The survey aimed to investigate the participants’ knowledge of Han culture based on 36 Oriental and Occidental test items, and the recall task was employed to elicit the participants’ memories based on 12 Oriental and Occidental cue words.

The results showed that, first, regarding recall age at the event, an unspecified setting of a reference period resulted in a generalized recall performance. Universally, the participants withdrew memories from the recent three to five years up to the time when the recall task was conducted. Second, one’s cultural awareness might not be directly linked to the production of self-experienced memories, regardless of the cultural proximity of the cue word. Third, the participants were found to favor Adjunct tokens over Argument tokens across groups in their memory recall and to generate mostly how- and what-tokens. There was a slight difference between the Sinosphere group and the Non-Sinosphere group in that the former tended to adopt a more conservative approach, while the latter group tended to provide extensive details during memory recollection.

Keywords: Memory-recall, Cultural Awareness, Second Language Chinese, Cross-cultural Study, Cognitive Processing