Learning & Teaching Foreign Languages

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Constructivism

LANGUAGE LEARNING THEORY

The move from behaviourist to cognitivist models of language learning has been accompanied by a parallel shift in teaching models from the teacher-centred to the learner-centred foreign language classroom.  It recognises the status of interlanguage grammars as independent of both first and second languages, though related to both, as shown in early work on nativisation by Andersen.

Constructivist teaching places the learner at the centre of the learning process, particularly in terms of the input received (Krashen’s Input hypothesis) and the output produced (Swain’s Output Hypothesis). 

The active learner of constructivist models is involved in interaction in the foreign language in communicative situations, and it is this aspect of learning that the Interaction hypothesis emphasises.  Developed by cognitivist researchers Gass and Long, this model of acquisition places particular emphasis on the intake or uptake of language by the learner as a result of feedback from others, especially teachers and/or native speakers.  

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