I'm having trouble wrapping my head around cognitive, psycholinguistic, and behaviorist learning acquisition methods in the context of second language acquisition. I don't really understand their differences or how to identify which one is being used. From what I understand,

Cognitive: Sequencing grammatical forms in a syllabus for individualized learning. There is some innate learning mechanism that facilitates learning, so it is better for teachers to focus on "inputs"

(Shoebottom, P. (n.d.). An introduction to the work of Stephen Krashen. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://esl.fis.edu/teachers/support/krashen.htm)

Psycholinguistic: Links between instruction and its effect upon learners are crucial. Instruction should promote form-meaning "mappings" (providing a format to draw the learner's attention to the target form-meaning mappings)

(Psycholinguistics. (2018, January 16). Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psycholinguistics)

Behavioral: Learning occurs through repeated process with assessment of successful learning.

(Behaviorism. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://www.funderstanding.com/theory/behaviorism/)

If, for example, I gave an assignment to students that asked to convert french words to english.

E.g. La piscine -> ?

Would this be a psycholinguistic approach? If I increase the number of questions and frequency, would this not be a behaviorist approach? Can anybody clarify the differences and give examples.


  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Good question. Two suggestions: 1) I would search for keywords such as "learning theory" and "learning theories" (or more specific keywords if you are focusing on a particular learning theory) on Microsoft Academic; Google Scholar; Google Books; and SSRN. Then do a similar search that focuses on language learning for adults (I think that's your primary focus). 2) Behavioral - "the acquisition of new behavior based on environmental conditions" is I think what you meant (or similar). Understanding operant conditioning is important. $\endgroup$ – Mark D Worthen PsyD Jan 20 '18 at 22:15

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