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According to Doernyei, it will not come as a surprise to hear that language is a part of psychology. The reason for this is that language is not just a communications code or a cognitive linguistic system. Language is at the centre of everything human beings do, from the most prosaic to the most profound. It is the basic ingredient of virtually every social situation. Lightbown and Spada suggest that the acquisition of language is one of the most impressive and fascinating aspects of human development. It appears that the two fields of psychology and linguistics had the potential during the 1960s to work much closer together.
In contrast, Segalowitz considers that this opportunity never materialized. Segalowitz takes the grim view that “The sad truth is that many psychologists interested in language have not kept up with recent developments in linguistics and it would also seem that many linguists are not aware of what is happening in psychology, especially in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuropsychology” (p.4). According to Doernyei linguists and psychologists have looked at the same phenomenon from different perspectives. Accordingly, for example, teachers of languages tend to concentrate more on the descriptive rules and patterns of the language system such as grammar. Doernyei suggests that psychologists, on the other hand, focus more on the mental processes and structures whereby people understand, produce, remember, store and acquire the actual language.
Belyayev considers that students who learn a foreign language must by force of necessity learn to think in that language. Consequently, the whole process of language teaching is to be envisaged as the switching of the student’s thinking from one language to another. Belyayev asserts, based on some research, that once students have mastered a foreign language, the learner does not need to revert back to his native language to use the resources of that tongue. The learner has acquired the ability to think directly in the new foreign language he/she has learned. According to Belyayev, based on some further research, language teachers have an important role to play in the effective teaching of foreign languages. Belyayev considers that thinking in a foreign language reveals specific characteristics and presents certain distinctive features in relation to thinking in the native language. This is why language teachers need to master the art and means of communication in a foreign language so that the language student evolves a different way of thinking. Belyayev did not elaborate on what he meant by “thinking”. Littlewood considered earlier that communicative activities are paramount to the successful learning of another language. He defines communicative learning as an activity whereby the student engages in activities with the main purpose of communicating meanings effectively to another student or the teacher. Littlewood suggests a number of contributions that communicative activities can make to language learning. For example, whole task practice is a structured approach in order to suit the learner’s level of ability. This integrates all of what has been learned so far. Littlewood asserts that learners want to participate more in communications with others and are therefore more motivated to learn much faster. The actual use of the new language is also an important part of the total learning process. Natural learning is a result of applying, for example, in conversations what has been learned. Communicative activities create environments that support the individual in their efforts to learn.