Cognitive Semiotics and the Foreign Language Classroom: The Use of Songs

The University of Texas at Austin, BEN 2.104

Prof. Ricardo Gualda, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brazil
Cognitive semiotics (Johnson, 2007; Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Pinker, 1997) can help explain limitations and failures in current methods, beliefs, and practices in foreign language teaching by highlighting the importance of culture and identity in the language learning process. The focus on forms observed in most institutional language-learning settings presents great limitations in the cultural view. Cognitive semiotics helps explain why the classroom experience, based on simulations commonly used in the communicative methodology and task-based learning (Prabhu, 1987), usually fails to prepare students for real-life interactions. Explored in this talk is the instructor’s selection of input materials, which tend to alienate students because they are not of interest to them. I argue that language courses should be project- (Boss & Krauss, 2007) and/or content-based (Brinton et al., 1989). I will exemplify the application of Cognitive Semiotics to foreign language pedagogy with the use of songs in a Portuguese language activity, considering the issues described above.

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