The interrelationship between social and cognitive factors in second/foreign language development
Foreign language pedagogy has often been influenced by findings drawn from the area of first and/or second language acquisition with confusing results. The thesis explores the extent to which the inter-relation of variables in foreign language learning differs from that in natural acquisition processes and varies across a range of learning contexts, thereby encouraging different pedagogical approaches. Chapter one argues that some models underestimate the different variables involved and suggests that a socio-cultural approach is more effective in identiffing and explaining the shifting relation between context and cognition. Chapter two seeks to situate foreign language study within a more general process of jimctional differentiation' in the child's widening linguistic repertoire, arguing that not only does the relation of context and cognition change between L I and L2 but also within L2 itself. Chapter three examines the shifting relation between context and cognition with reference to the language programme of European Schools in general, and the one at Culham in particular. The latter provides a basis for answering two questions: (1) is there a correlation between success in an acquisition poor environment and the extent of the learner's analytic competence; (2) does motivation play an increasing role in affecting success in contexts where goals are long-term rather than immediate? Data collected from the school are analyzed in chapter four. Response to both questions would seem to he positive although the complexity of the learners' backgrounds produced greater variation in the role of affective factors than anticipated. Finally, chapter five argues that the relative success of foreign language study from an early stage in schemes such as the European schools or the immersion programmes depends upon a precise interplay of socio-cognitive variables which is unlikely to he replicated elsewhere.