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In Search of Processes of Language Use in Foreign Language Didactics


Maria Dakowska

The author addresses key questions of foreign language teaching: How does foreign language learning take place? What is the mechanism of foreign language use and learning? What are the sources of our understanding of these processes? What significance does our understanding have for foreign language teaching? The main argument is that, in order to deal with the complexity of language learning and meet the current demands for foreign language competency, we must employ the framework of an empirical, relatively autonomous discipline of Foreign Language Didactics, constituted as a «normal» science which strives to understand foreign language learning as its subject-matter. This constructivist psycholinguistic conception targets language learning processes in the real world, i.e. as language use in the context of verbal communication, i.e. comprehension and production in speech and writing. The processes are represented as taking place in the learner’s cognitive system for information processing in communicative interaction, a universal human phenomenon. This perspective leads to systematic options and strategies for the practical teaching of foreign languages with focus on English as a world language.
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Chapter 6. Conclusions

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The goal of the monograph has been to develop a view of language use, specific enough to be relevant to the field of foreign language didactics, in other words, a view which would capture these processes in space and time to facilitate their understanding and deriving applications for teaching a foreign language in the educational context. The specificity of this view comes from the use of several important constraints and criteria taken from the overall format and agenda of foreign language didactics defined as an autonomous empirical discipline, justifying the location of these processes in the cognitive system of the language user (HIP). These processes have been identified from the point of view of their lingual specificity in three qualitatively distinct, cyclically related states, i.e. knowledge, skill and discourse. The notion of language use has been decomposed as verbal communication in comprehension and production in speech and writing. Language use has been regarded as the most elementary form of language learning which can provide grounds for various procedures of cultivating, facilitating, enhancing, unblocking and stimulating foreign language learning and teaching.

As a result of adopting this set of constraints, language use is inseparably linked with language users who are engaged in verbal communication with their entire bodies and minds. Because of this inextricable connection and considering the fact that language use and learning take place in a state-changing system, this framework emphasized a life-span perspective of foreign language learning and teaching, in which age is not considered a...

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