Cognitive defined in relation to language learning

Over and over people have expressed a lack of awareness of the term “cognitive code” as a fl teaching methodology, yet it is pretty much what took over after the collapse of ALM and other behaviorally based approaches. It is based on cognitive psychology principles and remains the way most U.S. fl teachers teach, i.e. learn the rule, practice the rule, apply the rule.
Another problem I’ve encountered is the use of the word “cognitive”. For most people, it equates to thinking. We often refer to cognitive methods of learning versus acquisition or unconscious paths to learning, but anyone can see the problem: isn’t it all some form of cognition? It is similar to the problem of people asking us if we teach our students grammar. Yes, we do, but not explicitly.
That has had to suffice. But recently I was reading Betty Lou Leaver’s book, Individual Study Plans For Very Advanced Students of Foreign Languages and she defines cognitive as focusing on information rather than on meaning. That makes sense to me: the cognitive code method asks us to focus on forms, to think about indirect objects, etc., whereas non-cognitive or non-interventionist approaches, called variously communicative and comprehensible input, focuses on meaning. Of course, the whole idea behind the latter is that the brain, the so-called Language Acquisition Device, lays down the patterns we call grammar (among other things) when messages are understood (Krashen’s phrase).
For me, defining cognitive approaches as focused on information i.e. what the utterance is made up of, works very well in describing what goes on in learning/acquiring a fl.

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