Applying Cognitive Linguistics to Second Language Learning by Jeannette Littlemore

By Jeannette Littlemore

Cognitive linguistics is a comparatively new self-discipline that is speedily turning into mainstream and influential, relatively within the sector of moment language instructing. This publication appears to be like at how cognitive linguistics can tell our educating, and bring about interesting feedback for alternative routes of providing grammar and vocabulary within the language school room.

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Form-focused instruction is nearly always more effective than mere exposure to L2 input (Doughty, 2003) but it is not always clear what aspects of the language we should focus on in these form-focused instruction sessions. De Bot et al. (2005: 85) provide a partial answer to this question when they say that: ‘The role of explicit instruction is . . to “prime” for noticing and to make clear those rules that cannot be [deduced] easily without instruction’. This implies that L2 construal patterns are a good candidate for explicit teaching.

The participants were then given a test in which they had to choose between the two genders for a set of nouns. In this test, they chose the one that was appropriate to the noun’s animacy at significantly above-chance levels, even though these particular nouns had not been encountered during the training. Williams concludes that the participants were able to set up a new categorization system without awareness. Interestingly however, he found a correlation between test performance and previous knowledge of languages that encode grammatical gender, which shows the importance of prior knowledge in implicit language learning.

According to Talmy, in ‘satelliteframed’ languages (such as English), the focus is on the manner; manner of movement is thus expressed within the verb, and the direction of movement is expressed through a preposition, as in to dash in; to slip out; to creep up, and to eat away. The reason why he claims that manner is prominent in this construction is that we usually understand (or ‘parse’) sentences by focusing first and foremost on the verb, then by working out how the rest of the sentence relates to the verb (Rost, 2002).

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