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Volume 3 Number 4, Winter 2006, Pages 1-225   

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The Role of Prosody in Recognition Memory for English Sentences

    Jee Hyun Ma

Prosody affects listener's recognition memory of spoken words or sentences (Eckstein & Friederici, 2005; Robinson, 1977). This study investigates Korean L1 speakers' recognition memory for English sentences with prosodic cues, including Korean L1 speakers with different English proficiency levels and English L1 speakers. In doing that, this study replicates Pennington and Ellis (2000). The implicit focus and the explicit focus of the recognition task were conducted to explore the role of prosody in recognition memory. In both experiments, the participants showed a high level of lexical memory regardless of their proficiency level of English even though the Korean L1 speakers with high English proficiency were able to use prosodic cues to interpret and to recognize spoken sentences better than those with low English proficiency. However, all participants became more sensitive to prosodic information and obtained better recognition memory when they were encouraged to focus on prosodic cues. This suggests that participants' recognition memory could be improved by explicit focusing attention on prosodic cues. Furthermore, it may be an indication that adult learners could benefit from explicit instruction in prosody (Goh, 2001; Pennington, 1998; Pennington & Ellis, 2000).