Prospective memory and second language education: what influences teachers' evaluation?
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According to Munsat (1967), bad performance on Prospective Memory (PM) may be interpreted as a bad attitude, rather than a memory problem. Therefore, PM maturation may play a role not only on scholastic performance but also on social behavior and peer relationships. While it is clear that PM develops with the puberty age, it has been questioned whether the knowledge of a second language (L2K) could have positive effects on cognition or it is just an epiphenomenon. However, in the educative contexts the relative importance of these factors is reversed: only L2K is assumed to be a relevant issue to be fostered, while PM seems to be often neglected. The present study aims at evaluating whether the development of PM in scholar children (aged 8 and 12) may be influenced by the level of L2K and, in turn, whether these factors can influence social behavior. A group of young adults (20-25) was used as control group. An event-based PM task required participants to press a key whenever a certain picture was presented, while performing a visuospatial-based probed recognition task (as ongoing activity), as a measure of working memory (WM) updating. Moreover, questionnaires measuring L2K and social adaptation were administered to children, their parents and their teachers. Developmental trajectory of both PM and WM was influenced by second language education: highly skilled children were performing better than their peers. Moreover, a series of regressions showed that teachers’ perception of social abilities in children depended on both memory tasks performance and level of L2K. These results seem to indicate that, although both PM and L2K are playing a role in scholastic and behavioral evaluation, only the latter is commonly considered as responsible for an enhanced children development.