Foreign Language Didactics Encounters Cognitive Science

  • Maria Dakowska
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


The choice of the topic stems from the fact that Professor Waldemar Marton is the intellectual pioneer who introduced cognitive thought into Poland and developed it further while conducting his own research on foreign/second language learning and teaching within this framework. Since his first account of David Ausubel’s (1968) cognitive views in educational psychology, cognitive conceptions have proliferated in the field of foreign language learning and teaching. Their potential and actual impact on our understanding of non-primary language learning cannot be overestimated. After all, language learning is cognitive by definition. Needless to say, in the past decades cognitivism has spread like fire not only in psychology, but also in philosophy, epistemology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, linguistics, psycholinguistics, translation studies, psychology of communication, sociology of cognition, cultural anthropology and second language acquisition research. We are witnessing a cognitive turn in these fields and an emergence of an interdisciplinary cognitive science. The question arises as to whether or not foreign language didactics (FLD) can (or should) become a member of this alliance and if so, on what terms and bases? For one thing, the encounter mentioned in the title immediately evokes what for foreign language didactics still constitutes a sensitive issue of identity. To make matters worse, not all of the developments in the cognitive sciences are equally relevant to the concerns of foreign language didactics. For this reason, the paper aims to determine the nature of this relationship on the basis of substantive (subject matter) criteria; in other words, it is intended to: (a) discern the aspects and level of magnitude of cognitive processes investigated by the potentially relevant cognitive sciences, and (b) to discern the aspect of cognition of relevance to foreign language didactics, understood as an autonomous empirical discipline, constituted in accordance with the cognitive conception of science. For this purpose, it is necessary to identify the fundamental unity underlying human cognitive phenomena of interest to the cognitive sciences, including FLD, and discern their specific aspect which justifies a relative autonomy of FLD within the cognitive alliance.


Foreign Language Cognitive Science Language Learning Verbal Communication Human Information Processing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WarsawWarsawPoland

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