Cognitive Linguistics Approaches to Teaching Foreign Grammar

Author’s name:

Svetlana Y. Rakhmankulova


At the present time, foreign language instruction boasts a plethora of different methods and practices, with the communicative approach dominating the scene. Alongside innovative methods based on modern technologies, traditional structural methods still remain popular. The cognitive linguistics approach discussed in the paper is based on the advantages of the existing methods and seems to overcome their shortcomings. The article offers a review of Russian and foreign papers of the recent decades on the problem of integrating cognitive linguistics into theory and methodology of foreign language instruction in general and teaching foreign language grammar in particular. A distinction is made between the cognitive (linguo-cognitive, conscious) approach and methods based on the modern theory of cognitive linguistics: cognitive grammar and semantics. The article further discusses the opportunities offered by R. Langacker’s cognitive grammar for presenting grammar while teaching a foreign language: for selecting and systematizing the grammar material, for explaining the grammar system of a language, and for interpreting the meaning and usage of certain grammatical units. The author identifies the following main principles of implementing the cognitive linguistics approach: the notion of grammar as a result of a native speaker’s conceptualizing the world, as a system of “schemes” for structuring reality; the idea of grammar units as units with a definite meaning and function; the need to organize and structure the course content functionally; using a simple metalanguage based on the learners’ first language in order to explain the meaning and function of grammar units; reliance on understanding the prototypic meaning of a unit and the cognitive mechanisms of enhancing that meaning (the conceptual metaphor mechanism); viewing grammar as a non-autonomous system and interpreting grammar forms as constituents of the utterance meaning, in combination with units of other language levels; explaining the choice of grammar units in an utterance by the way the speaker is interpreting the situation and by the corresponding communicative intention. The author concludes by describing and substantiating a high practical potential of this approach in foreign language teaching.

DOI: 10.47388/2072-3490/lunn2020-49-1-86-103
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Key words cognitive linguistics; cognitive grammar; FL teaching methods; communicative approach to FL teaching; structural methods of FL teaching.


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