Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Modern Approaches in Humanities and Social sciences
To Learn Is to Discover: From Piaget’s Cognitive Theory to the Autonomous Approach in Foreign Language Acquisition
Even though Jean Piaget primarily focused on the intellectual development of the individual and did not explicitly connect his theory to the field of education, his cognitive approach laid a fertile foundation for the reshaping of pedagogical practices. He underlined the importance of various educational concerns, autonomy being one of them, regarded as the main goal of the educational process. Since Piaget’s cognitive theory in language acquisition focuses on the construction of knowledge by emphasizing the importance of prior knowledge and mental representations for intellectual growth, he implies that, in order to be understood, knowledge must be discovered. The process of acquiring a foreign language occurs on the same cognitive principle: the learner needs to discover the concept in order to comprehend its meaning. Therefore, active learning stands at the basis of this approach and fosters the student’s ability to make several connections based on their previously assimilated knowledge, as they are actively engaged in the learning process. This outlook also redefines the role of the teacher. Language should not be taught by employing obsolete and mechanical learning strategies, such as rote-learning, but it should rather be discovered in a learner-centred environment in which the teacher’s objective is not to transmit information but to facilitate its understanding. Hence, the purpose of my presentation is to highlight the relationship between Piaget’s pioneering theory and its significant influence on the field of education, with emphasis on the autonomy development in foreign language acquisition.
keywords: education, knowledge, autonomy, comprehension, learning