Cognitive Code-Learning Theory (CC-LT) or the Trend toward Cognitive Activity

September 5th, 20119:16 am

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Cognitive Code-Learning Theory (CC-LT) or the Trend toward Cognitive Activity

Cognitive Code-Learning Theory (CC-LT) or the Trend toward Cognitive Activity

The trend toward a more active use of the students’ mental powers probably represents the most important effort of the cognitive theory of language acquisition. Advocates of the A-LM often advised the teacher to keep students “active” – since, they said, when a student is active he is learning. They advised him to have all his students saying things aloud in English during as much of the class period as possible. This was the chief reason for doing so much choral work. In this way the greatest number of students could be actively participating – “using the language” as it was called.

Language learning is viewed as rule acquisition, not habit formation. Instruction is often individualised: learners are responsible for their own learning. Reading and writing are once again as important as listening and speaking; errors are viewed as inevitable.

But the utility of such “active” use of the language has been challenged by proponents of CC-LT. They point out that the mere mechanical repetition of language forms is in reality passive rather than active learning, for it is primarily – sometimes almost entirely – a physical, mechanical sort of activity. It does not begin to engage the student’s full mental powers.

CC-LT, as a FLT method, is based on the following principal assumptions:

1. language is a system of signs, governed by its own rules;

2. CC-LT implies recognition of form, perception of meaning, relations of universals and particulars, generalisation and analogy;

3. the assimilation of material is directly proportional to the degree of its comprehension;

4. language is more than a system of habits which can be formed through systematic drills;

5. language learning is a creative process, therefore the student should be as mentally active as possible in all assigned work:

6. a) drills and exercises should be meaningful;

b) deductive use of exercises designed to teach grammar structures (deductive explanations, i.e. rule prior to practice, starting with the rule and then offering examples to show how this rule applies);

c) rote learning is to be avoided;

d) reading and writing should be taught at early stages along with listening and speaking;

e) occasional use of student’s native language for explanation of new grammar and vocabulary is beneficial.

The cognitive principles of learning can conveniently be summarised under three headings:

1. the need for experience;

2. the process of assimilation;

3. developmental stages.

These three principles are not only suited to adult learners but they have been readily adopted in the primary school, and the following are suggestions for practising cognitive principles in the classroom with younger children:

a)  Give experiences of the language they are learning – teach them poems, rhymes, songs, tell them stories, and talk to them.

b) Give them activities – painting, modelling, playing game, etc.

c)  Don’t stick rigidly to a predetermined language syllabus – allow the activities that take place in the class to range freely and develop naturally and let the occurrence of stimulating events that happen in the environment influence the vocabulary and structures that are introduced and practised in each lesson.

Viewing language learning as a natural creative process rather than as habit formation, suggests that the teacher should provide guided practice in thinking in the language rather than a mere repetition drill. Such mental involvement tends to make language learning more enjoyable for the student, – hence improved attitudes and better results [cf. 19 p. 35].

It seems also appropriate to remind ourselves that teaching involves much more than a knowledge of methods. However well versed a teacher may be in psychological and linguistic theories, in techniques and methodologies, his knowledge alone will not assure success. An even more basic ingredient of all good teaching is the teacher’s attitude toward his students and his work.

We must recognise the teacher’s compassionate, intelligent, individual approach to his work as the essential factor in successful language teaching.

To sum it up, language in CC-LT is viewed as an abstract model, governed by its own rules; language material is assimilated in blocks, not discretely i.e. in their constitutive elements; assimilation is directly proportional to comprehension; frequency of contrast is more important than frequency of repetition. According to this theory assimilation of language is achieved by conscious control over phonological, grammatical, and lexical models of a foreign language by way of conscious learning and analysis.

And, finally, practice and pedagogical experimenting shows that the priority of a certain methods is not justified. Some specialists believe that a creative synthesis of provisions of every method (eclecticism) may yield good results.

Джерела:
Близнюк М.І. Курс лекцій з методики викладання англійської мови. – Чернівці: ЧДУ, 1999 – с.