Implementation of the cognitive approach to the theory and practice of foreign language education

The profound changes in social, political and economic life of the Republic of Kazakhstan have a great influence on the development of the educational system. New social needs require a change in the educational paradigm – orientation on fundamentality and humanization of education, the individual’s creative development. The processes of integration and globalization taking place in society, contribute to the formation of a systemic view of the world, culture, realization that no scientific, social or technical problem cannot be solved without interrelated and united consideration of all its aspects. The objectives and content of education are always built in the context of socio-cultural values, ideas and goals of social development, as well as determined by the level of development of science and culture in that society.

The peculiarity of the national system of foreign language education is that in addition to the general trend of humanization, increases the importance of training professionals with foreign language proficiency that will allow them to discuss and solve professional problems at the international level. The conditions of continuous expansion of intercultural communication in the modern world requires a finite reforming of language education through cultural studies, sociologization of its content taking into account UNESCO’s recommendations on education based on peace, respect for human rights, with a focus on the dialogue of cultures. This defines the main tasks of modern foreign language education, the success of which is seen in combined teaching of language and culture that determines one of the strategic directions of the modern theory and practice of foreign language education.

Thus, in the current conditions, the impact of social, political, economic, professional, psychological, educational, cultural factors on language education system has caused an objective need for the development of new methodological approaches that promote maximum actualization of personal and intellectual potential of the students, that expands the scientific interest in the cognitive science and the development of the cognitive approach in foreign language teaching [1, 2].

Today due to the efforts of the representatives of different sciences was established the scientific and theoretical basis for the further development of the cognitive approach to the theory and practice of modern foreign language education. These are works in the field of cognitive psychology and cognitive linguistics, philosophy, cognitive and communicative language teaching. Basing on provisions of cognitive psychology and cognitive linguistics, scientists consider different aspects of the cognitive approach, interpreting them as psychological, psychological-pedagogical, linguistic and cognitive principles of foreign language teaching.

In scientific studies cognition can be interpreted very broadly: as mind, consciousness, thinking, that is, high-order processes, and then in this series is included the knowledge.Cognition refers to pphhii-losophy as «the experience of gaining knowledge, including awareness of the nature of things and the subsequent formation of judgments about them»[3, 42].The key idea of cognitivism, which has become a methodological imperative for the science of the next period, was as follows: we must examine not the observed actions, but their mental representations, strategies, a person’s ability to produce these actions.

Since cognitivism has originated in the studies of cognitive processes, this resulted in the first place in the realization of cognitive psychology as an independent field of knowledge, in which it is assumed that the main role in human behavior plays an object representation of the external world. Cognitive psychology studies how people get their information about the world, how this information is presented to man as it is stored in memory and converted into knowledge and how this knowledge affect our attention and behavior [4].

Cognitive psychology has created a new trend in pedagogy and methodology – cognitive teaching. Researches in the field of cognitive teaching aimed at exploring opportunities to improve cognitive performance of the individual with the help of special education programs. Although these studies are not sufficiently advanced, in practice is often stated the importance of developing methods of education, the purpose of which is cognitive development. This trend in pedagogy, limited for many years mainly by special education, now covers professional education too. Cognitive teaching is born the need to redefine the role and place of the individual in the learning the philosophy of cognition, arming the individual with method, the right way to describe and explain the reality [3, 21].

The main purpose of the methods of cognitive teaching is to develop the intellect, and more precisely the totality of mental abilities and strategies that make possible the process of learning and adapting to new situations. The basis of cognitive teaching strategies is «teaching how to learn, not just teaching specific concepts and skills. Cognitive teaching is designed to correct the deficiencies of cognitive intellectual activity, while developing attention, memory, perception, mental ability and will. This approach to knowledge in unity involves a process of teaching in the social and cultural context, and the most significantly – the epistemological interpretation of the results obtained by these new fields of knowledge as cognitive psychology, cognitive science.

There are many methods of cognitive teaching. A variety of methods for maintenance of cognitive teaching have important things in common: the growing importance of cognitive processes in comparison with declarative knowledge, correlation in the teaching process of cognitive, emotional, volitional, and motivational factors, the importance of metacognition (monitoring and control procedures that a subject applies in his or her cognitive activity, as well as knowledge about these activities) in the process of knowledge transfer.

Thus, the analysis of scientific literature allows us to conclude that the successful assimilation of a foreign language as a combination of different types of knowledge (about the language system and its units, reality, the culture of the target language country) is provided by a complex cognitive processes, making the cognitive approach relevant in the methodology of foreign language teaching. Cognitive activity during cognitive teaching process is understood as a student-centered education that integrates the intellectual, emotional, volitional components of personality and expresses the desire to achieve results in an intensive cognitive activity. A high level of cognitive activity indicates the formation of emotional and volitional spheres, stability of cognitive interest.

Common to all areas of methodology goal is to develop intellectual functions, teach to learn and to think. Methods of cognitive teaching are original to the extent that they suggest achieving this goal directly, without going through the process of acquiring knowledge or mental procedures peculiar to this field of activity. Cognitive teaching techniques are focused on cognitive activity. For example, the «method of forecasting the results» helps the subject understand his or her mental activity, based on the transfer of procedural knowledge from one area to another.

Any cognitive act must include the acquisition, use and transformation of cognitive experience. Ability, which is responsible for the acquisition of experience, can be identified by learning abilities, productivity is determined by the application of general intellectual experience, and transforms the experience associated with creativity.

Focused and scientifically justified selection of educational material, the organization of the teaching material and methods of working with it, its correlation with the aims and stages of teaching (in accordance with the cognitive and individual style of a learner) require special strategies that will make the teaching process faster and more efficient and solve professional problems.

Individual style of cognitive activity is a verbal information converting system, generated on the basis of motives and goals of activity mediated by means of cognitive styles, which are interpreted as individual operational systems of information processing methods on a preverbal level [5]. Cognitive styles, in turn, reflect the individual psychological characteristics of the cognitive processes inherent predisposition of a human to use ways of interacting with information, individual-specific cognitive structure of an individual, mediating the processes of operating information at all levels of cognitive abilities.

Metacognitive strategies are the most prioritized among the strategies of mastering a foreign language (metacognitive, cognitive, social-affective) allocated by the scientists, because they give a great place to the self learning process: self-planning, self-study, self-control, and self-esteem. Metacognitive strategies are used to generate both cognitive strategies, associated with the selection and presentation of educational material in accordance with the aims and objectives of education and socio-affective strategies that involve interaction with other participants of communication, involvement in this process [6].

These strategies are used in the formation of all language skills: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. The developed learning strategies ensure the effectiveness of mastering a foreign language by the learners, and allow implementing a differentiated approach to learning, promoting the growth of motivation, increasing control and self-control.

With reference to the foregoing, cognitive style should be attributed to procedural characterization of cognitive activity. Stylistic parameters correlate with a variety of different psychological and psychophysiological characteristics of individuality [7]. Cognitive style is associated with all levels of the individual properties, affects the individual style of activity itself depends on it [8]. As a «mediator» between mental and personal levels of «integrated individuality», cognitive styles are the way to mastering the individual view of the world, including language. Since language is an integral part of cognition, mental manifestation of human activity and means of forming linguistic world corresponding to each natural language, the process of teaching a foreign language should be based on the specificity of students’ cognitive personality.

Thus, cognitive teaching should be understood as an active process of cognition. Knowledge and abilities obtained by the application of this approach, contribute to the development of a high level of intelligence, formation of creativity, accumulation of practical experience necessary to future specialist, needed in the formation of new professional competence based educational conditions.



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  7. Kognitivnaya psihologiya: Ucheb. dlya vuzov / Pod red. V.N. Druzhinina, D.V. Ushakova. – M., 2002.
  8. Leont’ev D.A. Individual’nyj stil’ i individual’nye stili – vzglyad iz 1990-h // Stil’ cheloveka. Psihologicheskiy analiz / Pod red. A.V. Libina. – M.,1998. – S. 93–109.
  9. Velichkovskiy B.M. Sovremennaya kognitivnaya psihologiya. – M.: MGU, 1982.
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Magazine: KazNU BULLETIN
Year: 2015
City: Almaty
Category: Philology