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M. Myers

Queen's University (CANADA)
In this paper we present content dealing with language learning and research results while also providing adequate contextualization. In L2 classes various supports are used (Myers, 2004; 2014a; 2014b) and innovative tasks to enhance learning with visuals are becoming central. Examples include information gap activities, picture-dictations, gradual reveals, dicta-gloss and concept attainment strategies seen in a new light.

Learning strategies vary greatly and diversity in approaches is key. Not only do learners have different learning styles but teachers also have various ways to present materials. We believe the discussion has to center round the notion of continuums. It takes both learners’ and teachers’ understanding of learning. Methodological principles behind actions to be favored have to be thoroughly mastered in order for teachers to translate them into the most effective ways to learn. Under a constructivist light today, much has to change as to enable each learner to apprehend the concepts to be uncovered through problem solving, personal research, personal integration of new data and creation of information for one’s personal purpose. Under such a wide umbrella, needless to say, assessment and teaching strategies come under new scrutiny.

Mayer (2008) developed a cognitive theory based on three principles. According to him we process information through both a visual and verbal channel, following Paivio’s (1986) double coding theory (Baddeley, 1992). He accepts the principle of limited capacity in the quantity of information processed (Baddeley, 1992; Chandler & Sweller, 1991) and relies on active processing on the part of the learner, meaning that significant learning only occurs only when learners engage in active cognitive processes (Mayer, 2008; Wittrock, 1989).

We can refer also to more details on cognitive charge theory (Sweller, 1999; 2005), namely to the three modes of cognitive processing available during learning, corresponding respectively to external, intrinsic and compatible or germane. Inadequate teaching can trigger external processes as additional cognitive loads are created for the learner. For instance when teachers are not aware of the additional limitation on the capacity of working memory when dealing with a second language they may not allocate working memory resources to enable the construction of schemas leading to automation. Levels of interactivity are necessary in order for the natural complexity of information to be processed and this corresponds to intrinsic cognitive load, this requires a certain amount of time and when not available something is missed. When effort is displayed in learning, Sweller (2005) calls it germane cognitive load, as the learner willingly engages in activity, and the result is schema construction and eventual automation.

With these processes in mind we reviewed teaching-learning activities, also referring to the latest Ministry of Education of Ontario recommendations for language learning (2013) and devised innovative ways to support various personal and learning styles.