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Cognitive & Affective Considerations Source: Brown, D. (2007). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. (pp. 65-71)

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Presentation on theme: "Cognitive & Affective Considerations Source: Brown, D. (2007). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. (pp. 65-71)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Cognitive & Affective Considerations Source: Brown, D. (2007). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. (pp )

2 Cognitive Considerations Piaget outlined the following stages of cognitive development: 1. Sensorimotor sage (birth -2) 2. Preoperational stage (2-7) 3. Operational stage (7-16): A. Concrete operational (7-11) B. Formal operational (11-16)

3 Piaget’s stages and 2 nd language learning Around 11, the child becomes more capable of abstract thinking. One can argue that the transition from concrete to abstract thinking (at 11) is the critical period of language acquisition. However, researchers say that connecting the Piagetian sages with critical period arguments is dangerous. Why?

4 Some researchers argue that 2 nd language learning may be facilitated (enhanced) by grammatical explanation and deductive thinking, which would, of course, be pointless for a child. Thus, ability to think formally cannot always be seen as a hindering factor in 2 nd language learning. On the contrary, a superior intellect should facilitate such a highly complex intellectual activity, i.e. 2 nd language acquisition.

5 Another cognitive factor: Equilibration: “progressive interior organization of knowledge in a stepwise fashion.” (Brown, 2007, p. 67) -Cognition develops through moving from states of doubt and uncertainty to states of resolution and certainty, and then back to doubt, which is in time resolved, and so the cycle continues up through the age of 14 or 15, when formal operations finally are firmly organized and equilibrium is reached.

6 Back to 2 nd language Acquisition One may argue that lack of equilibrium may provide motivation for language acquisition. So, until the state of final equilibrium, the child is cognitively ready and eager to acquire language. Another related issue is the children’s indifference to contradictions and ambiguities. Intellectual maturity, however, produces an awareness of ambiguities and heighten the need to resolve them. This awareness of the enormous complexities of acquiring an additional language may make the process overwhelming, and thus discouraging.

7 Affective Considerations 1. Egocentricity/ inhibitions/ language ego 2. Attitudes 3. Peer pressure

8 1. Egocentricity/inhibitions/language ego Very young children are highly egocentric, they see the world as revolving around them. As they get older, they become more aware of themselves as separate entities from the world, and they become more conscious of themselves as they seek to define and understand their self-identity. Gradually, they develop inhibitions about this self- identity. They become afraid of exposing their self- doubt.

9 Cont’d At puberty, those inhibitions are heightened as a result of undergoing physical, cognitive, and emotional changes. Language ego: the identity a person develops in reference to the language he/she speaks. One’s self-identity is tightly bound up with one’s language. It is through your language that you send and receive messages- and it is through the process of sending out messages and receiving them that you confirm, shape, and reshape your identity.

10 Back to 2 nd Language Acquisition Thus, the child’s ego is dynamic and flexible up until the age of puberty. Thus, a new language at this stage (before puberty) does not pose a threat to the child’s flexible ego. At puberty, due to the simultaneous physical, emotional, and cognitive changes, a defensive mechanism arises in which the language ego becomes protective and defensive. The language ego after puberty becomes a major part of self-identity.

11 Cont’d Inhibitions are also heightened at puberty, as mentioned before. Children are less frightened of making fools of themselves because they are less aware of language forms. Therefore, they are usually not concerned if they make mistakes in these forms. Due to the heightened inhibitions at puberty, an adolescent will need to overcome the sensitivities associated with the trial-and-error struggle of speaking and understanding a foreign language.

12 2. Attitudes Negative attitudes can affect success in language learning. Very young children are not developed cognitively to have “attitudes’ towards races, cultures, languages, ethnic groups, etc. Thus, they have no problem learning a second language. A study shows that “children who are transported from Montreal to Berlin will rapidly learn German no matter what they think of the Germans”.

13 Attitudes The learning of negative attitudes toward the second language or the people who speak the second language is shown to negatively affect the success of second language learning.

14 3. Peer Pressure Peer pressure children encounter in second language learning situations is stronger than that experienced by adults. Adults are more tolerant of errors in speech, and thus are more easily excused. This may encourage adult learners to “get by’’ as long as they are understood. Children are harsher critics of one another’s actions and words, which may push them to try harder in perfecting their second language.


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