Language and thought
- Broca’s area is the part of the human
brain associated with language.
- Empiricist-Rationalist debate that
influences grammar instruction
Relationship between language and
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: though and
language are determined by culture
(linguistic determinism) strong and weak
Piaget (1967) cognitive development in
the infant occurs in defined stages and
Chomsky (1957) language is an innate
human specific ability which is not
dependent on other cognitive processes.
Children are genetically equipped to
acquire language in infancy.
“Universal grammar” minimum input for
Vygotsky (1934/1962) this view comes
from interactionists and states that
social interaction is of major importance
in developing language capacity.
Language Teaching Approaches based on American Linguistics theories (40’s
Fries (1945) American structural linguistics which emphasized
grammatical and phonological structure.
Grammar should be the starting point of language learning = habit formation
Revolutionary changes in linguistic theory in the 60’s
Generative linguistics (transformational)
CHOMSKY (1957) rejected the behaviorist notion of habit
He introduced a rationalist framework:
Language is represented as a speaker’s
mental grammar, a set of abstract rules
for generating grammatical sentences.
These rules generate the syntactic
structure and lexical items for
appropriate grammatical categories.
The interest of generative linguists
centered on rule-governed behavior and
the grammatical structure of sentences,
but did not include use of language.
Language learning approaches based
on this theory viewed learning as rule
acquisition and not as habit formation
and emphasized grammatical rules.
Hymes (1972) extended it and gave
greater emphasis to the sociolinguistic
and pragmatic factors governing
effective use of language.
emphasized using language for
- Appropriate use of language
Halliday (1973) promoted fluency over
Focus shifted from sentence level forms
to discourse level forms
Cognitive Science, with work of cognitive psychologists and
Language learning and grammar instruction from the information
Study of cognition in language learning
deals with ”mental representations and
information processing” and seeks to
develop “ functional neurobiological
descriptions of the learning processes
which, through exposure to
representative experience, result in
change, development and the
emergence of knowledge” Ellis (1999)
Cognitive approach becomes necessary
when there are problems with purely
Theories state that the best way of
learning a language is by experiencing it
meaningfully and not as an object of