The cognitive dimension in learning foreign languages
2002, Vol. VII-2, pp. 17-29
The aim of this article is to show the importance of basing foreign language teaching pedagogy on a cognitive theory of learning. The article draws on John Anderson's theory of learning and is illustrated by two longitudinal studies. Learning is seen to involve two main stages :at the initial stage a procedural rule giving a specific form to a function is constructed from declarative knowledge from different sources using general problem-solving procedures ; a second phase entails the automatisation of the procedural rule and its gradual modification through processes of generalisation and discrimination. An analysis of classroom practice leads us next to re-focus the problem of instructed language learning on the compatibility between the aims of the teacher, the cognitive activity of the learner and his communicative performance and needs in the target language.