Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

College of Arts and Sciences



Major Advisor

Dr. Christy Wolfe


Experience with a foreign language is considered a valuable skill in workplace and school settings alike. However, recent studies in the field of psychology exploring the process of acquiring a second language have limited applicability, especially for adults with English as a first language. This study sought to explore the relation between encoding modality (auditory, visual, or visual and auditory; based on Baddeley’s model of working memory) and rehearsal strategy (active or passive, based on Craik and Lockhart’s Level of Processing approach and Roger’s Self-Reference Effect) in the recall of foreign language vocabulary words. Vocabulary words were the target information in this study because vocabulary has been shown to be a crucial component of second language acquisition (Masoura, 2005). Adult participants were assigned to one of six different conditions based on the interactions between the different encoding modalities and rehearsal strategy (e.g., auditory-active, auditory-passive, visual-active, etc). It was hypothesized that those participants in the combined auditory/visual condition that were given active processing instructions would recall a higher number of words than participants in other conditions. The results indicated that encoding modality was significant, with those in the visual and visual/auditory conditions recalling more words than those in the auditory condition. However, there was not a significant difference between active and passive rehearsal strategy, which does not match pre-existing research in the field. These findings add to the current literature on foreign language vocabulary learning and demonstrate that visual encoding modality can be considered a crucial component of the vocabulary learning process.