a1 University of New South Wales
a2 University of Bristol
This study tested the hypothesis that individual differences in immediate verbal memory span would predict success in second language vocabulary acquisition. The subjects learned 56 English–Finnish translations during two sessions using a method in which they were encouraged to distribute their learning and to use semantic encoding strategies where appropriate. Verbal, but not visuo-spatial, memory span was correlated with the rate of vocabulary learning, a result that could not have occurred because of immediate retrieval from a short-term buffer. When tested one week later, the subjects were less likely to remember those words they had had difficulty learning, even though they had studied these items more often. The theoretical and practical implications of the findings for vocabulary learning are discussed.