PSYCHOLOGY OF TEACHING FOREIGN LANGUAGES
Theme: Psychological features of teaching foreign languages
Subthemes: Psychological content of teaching foreign languages and its relationship with psycholinguistics, psychology and pedagogy
All scientists who deal with teaching foreign languages emphasize that in teaching foreign languages importance of the teacher’s professional language competence, factors of accounting of educational subject’s particularities and individual peculiarities of learners, especially motivation in learning foreign languages are equal. The process of teaching foreign languages consists of three equal components:
- the teacher and his professional skills;
- the learner and his aspiration;
- the subject which learner must acquire.
It is natural that in psychological-pedagogical analyses of education we must consider factors-components mentioned above. Thereupon in our opinion important factors and components of educational system are – psychological features of foreign language teachers; psychological features of learners of various age stages; psychological features of foreign language as educational subject; psychological analysis of speech activity as an object of mastering; pupil’s educational activity in the process of learning foreign languages and the form of education.
Speaking about the factors which influence on successful learning foreign language it is necessary to note a close connection of psychology of teaching foreign language with psychological and pedagogical disciplines, particularly, with pedagogical psychology. All mentioned factors and components of education are the research subject of pedagogical psychology.
Pedagogical psychology – are the most important branches of psychology. The basis for allocation of this branch of psychology is the psychological aspect of concrete activity of teaching and studying.
Pedagogical psychology is in close relationship with developmental and age psychology, which study ‘age dynamics of person’s mental development, ontogenesis of mental process and psychological quality of developing person’. Ontogenesis refers to the sequence of events involved in the development of an individual organism from its birth to its death. This developmental history often involves a move from simplicity to higher complexity. So all problems of development and age psychology are considered on the basis of accounting person’s age features. Pedagogical and age psychology in their researching base on the theories of General Psychology, which opens the general psychological laws, studies mental processes, mental conditions and person’s individual-psychological peculiarities.
Pedagogical psychology as independent branch started to form in the end of XIX century collecting experiences and achievements of pedagogical, psychological and psychophysical experiments and researches.
Pedagogical psychology includes – Educational Psychology, Upbringing Psychology and Teacher’s Psychology.
In America this field of psychology is mainly called Educational Psychology.
Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools as organizations. Educational psychology is concerned with how students learn and develop, often focusing on subgroups such as gifted children and those subject to specific disabilities. Although the terms "educational psychology" and "school psychology" are often used interchangeably, researchers and theorists are likely to be identified in the US and Canada as educational psychologists, whereas practitioners in schools or school-related settings are identified as school psychologists. This distinction is however not made in the UK, where the generic term for practitioners is "educational psychologist".
Educational psychology can in part be understood through its relationship with other disciplines. It is informed primarily by psychology, bearing a relationship to that discipline analogous to the relationship between medicine and biology. Educational psychology in turn informs a wide range of specialties within educational studies, including instructional design, educational technology, curriculum development, organizational learning, special education and classroom management. Educational psychology both draws from and contributes to cognitive science and the learning sciences. In universities, departments of educational psychology are usually housed within faculties of education, possibly accounting for the lack of representation of educational psychology content in introductory psychology textbooks.
To understand the characteristics of learners in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age, educational psychology develops and applies theories of human development. Often represented as stages through which people pass as they mature, developmental theories describe changes in mental abilities (cognition), social roles, moral reasoning, and beliefs about the nature of knowledge.
For example, educational psychologists have researched the instructional applicability of Jean Piaget's theory of development, according to which children mature through four stages of cognitive capability. Piaget hypothesizedthat children are not capable of abstract logical thought until they are older than about 11 years, and therefore younger children need to be taught using concrete objects and examples. Researchers have found that transitions, such as from concrete to abstract logical thought, do not occur at the same time in all domains. A child may be able to think abstractly about mathematics, but remain limited to concrete thought when reasoning about human relationships. Perhaps Piaget's most enduring contribution is his insight that people actively construct their understanding through a self-regulatory process.
Piaget proposed a developmental theory of moral reasoning in which children progress from a naïve understanding of morality based on behavior and outcomes to a more advanced understanding based on intentions. Piaget's views of moral development were elaborated by Kohlberg into a stage theory of moral development. There is evidence that the moral reasoning described in stage theories is not sufficient to account for moral behavior. For example, other factors such as modeling (as described by the social cognitive theory of morality) are required to explain bullying.
Rudolf Steiner'smodel of child development interrelates physical, emotional, cognitive, and moral development in developmental stages similar to those later described by Piaget.
Developmental theories are sometimes presented not as shifts between qualitatively different stages, but as gradual increments on separate dimensions. Development of epistemological beliefs (beliefs about knowledge) have been described in terms of gradual changes in people's belief in: certainty and permanence of knowledge, fixedness of ability, and credibility of authorities such as teachers and experts. People develop more sophisticated beliefs about knowledge as they gain in education and maturity.
Each person has an individual profile of characteristics, abilities and challenges that result from predisposition, learning and development. These manifest as individual differences in intelligence, creativity, cognitive style, motivation and the capacity to process information, communicate, and relate to others. The most prevalent disabilities found among school age children are attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disability, dyslexia, and speech disorder. Less common disabilities include mental retardation, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and blindness.
Although theories of intelligence have been discussed by philosophers since Plato, intelligence testing is an invention of educational psychology, and is coincident with the development of that discipline. Continuing debates about the nature of intelligence revolve on whether intelligence can be characterized by a single factor known as general intelligence, multiple factors (e.g., Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences), or whether it can be measured at all. In practice, standardized instruments such as the Stanford-Binet IQ testand the WISC are widely used in economically developed countries to identify children in need of individualized educational treatment. Children classified as gifted are often provided with accelerated or enriched programs. Children with identified deficits may be provided with enhanced education in specific skills such asphonological awareness. In addition to basic abilities, the individual's personality traits are also important, with people higher in conscientiousness and hope attaining superior academic achievements, even after controlling for intelligence and past performance.
References & Suggested Readings
1 Bloom L. Language Development. – Cambridge (Mass.), 1970. – 564p.
2 Braine M.D.S. The insufficiency of a finite state model for verbal reconstructive memory // Psychonomic Science. – 1965. – V. 2. - p.132-138.
3 Bruner J.S. From communication to language // Cognition. V. 33. 1974–1975.
4 Carroll J.B. The Study of Language. – Cambridge (Mass.), 1953.
5 Carroll J.B. Language and thought. – Englewood Cliffs, 1964.
6 Chomsky N. A Review of Verbal Behavior, by B.F. Skinner // Language. V 35. – 1959. № 1.
7 Clark H.N., Clark E. V. Psychology of Language. An Introduction to Psycholinguistics. – New York, 1977. – 165p.
Theme: Modern tendency of foreign language education and psycholization of the study process
Subtheme: Learning and cognition
3. Developmental prespective
4. Social cognitive perspective
Two fundamental assumptions that underlie formal education systems are:
a) students retain knowledge and skills they acquire in school;
b) students can apply them in situations outside the classroom.
But are these assumptions accurate? Research has found that, even when students report not using the knowledge acquired in school, a considerable portion is retained for many years and long term retention is strongly dependent on the initial level of mastery. One study found that university students who took a child development course and attained high grades showed, when tested 10 years later, average retention scores of about 30%, whereas those who obtained moderate or lower grades showed average retention scores of about 20%. There is much less consensus on the crucial question of how much knowledge acquired in school transfers to tasks encountered outside formal educational settings, and how such transfer occurs. Some psychologists claim that research evidence for this type of far transfer is scarce, while others claim there is abundant evidence of far transfer in specific domains. Several perspectives have been established within which the theories of learning used in educational psychology are formed and contested. These include behaviorism, cognitivism, social cognitive theory, and constructivism. This section summarizes how educational psychology has researched and applied theories within each of these perspectives.