Cognitive Competences of English Language Teachers and Their Impact on Use of Teaching Methods with Learners at Lower Secondary School

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Abstract

Introduction: The paper discusses the term cognitive competence of foreign language teachers and focuses on their application in practice. It also deals with possible impact of cognitive competences on choice of teaching methods. The paper identifies a list of the cognitive competences which are both expected and needed when conducting English lessons.

Methods: For the purposes of the survey, the qualitative method of direct observation was chosen. To maximise valid information about the taught lesson, identical observation and self-evaluation sheets had to be designed first. The findings are analysed, compared, and conclusions drawn for school practice.

Results: The survey data show which cognitive competences the teachers of English language use the most and the least when the teaching of pre-intermediate learners from two grades was observed at lower secondary school. The main findings also highlight the necessity of using a wider variety of more up-to date teaching methods and approaches suitable for both target grades of learners, in contrast to still prevailing traditional ones.

Discussion: It needs to be admitted that the authors of this paper are not aware of works which deal with similar research of cognitive competences. Though many authors write about social, key and teaching competences in general, cognitive competences are still a kind of Pandora’s box. It is recommended both that deeper research be undertaken in this field and that teachers pay more attention not only to relevant theoretical knowledge within, for example, courses of continual professional development, but also to the impact on their learners’ performance of the cognitive competences being used.

Limitations: The authors are aware of the limited number of observed lessons due to objective reasons such as the reluctance of some teachers to participate in the survey. The survey sample of four observed lessons is too small to enable definitive, generalisable statements to be made about the use of cognitive competences and the appropriateness of teaching methods. Additional, observed lessons would yield more valuable and valid results.

Conclusion: The survey proves that cognitive competences are a necessary part of teachers’ personalities and abilities and their usage can depend on the proficiency level of learners of English language. The authors assert that the topic of cognitive competences and their impact in foreign language teaching has still not been explored in detail. It is an interesting area involving active metacognitive and cognitive functions influenced by many factors which tend to change according to the teacher’s historical context. This idiographic survey for the purposes of a graduation thesis carried out in a small town school can be regarded as a modest contribution to the topic.

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