本研究可視為一先導實驗，探討認知教學法於可數/不可數名詞概念之教學上的應用。此研究的意義在於表明認知教學法於外國語言教學之可行性。其他的建議將會在未來的研究中繼續探討。 Teaching English count-mass concept has been a challenge in foreign language classrooms. It seems that both traditional grammatical and ontological explanations fail to help learners construct systematic and consistent knowledge about the correct use of these two senses. As Lakoff (1986) suggests, language is a result of human cognition, the count-mass distinction should be best envisaged as a conceptual activity through which nouns are categorized. This statement has led to an alternative pedagogy proposed in this study to better interpret the count-mass distinction.
This study is to investigate the effect of cognitive instruction by using schematic categorization models on EFL college learners’ acquisition of count-mass common nouns. A reliability-and-validity-tested item bank of 41 questions was established as a source of tests to gauge subjects’ progress. 21 out of the 41 questions were designed with the proto meaning while the rest 20 with the extended. A pilot study carried out to test the viability of the new method reported significant progress over two weeks. The main study consisted of 60 freshmen of low intermediate English proficiency throughout a treatment of four weeks plus an interval of 4 more weeks for the delayed post-test. Subjects randomly signed up for one group taught with a new methodology termed Cognitive Instruction Method (CIM) and the other Grammar Translation Method (GTM). During the treatment, the CIM group received 7 sets of image schemas with each set referring to one category of nouns along with conceptual explanation while the GTM group received 7 images with each denoting one category of nouns along with grammatical explanation and translation.
The results showed that both the CIM and GTM groups report significant progress. However, the CIM group outperformed the GTM group in the post-test and the delayed post-test significantly. This suggests that the cognitive instruction can prominently enhance subjects’ performance in learning count-mass nouns and help retain knowledge longer than the grammar translation method. In terms of the learning of proto and extended meanings, the CIM group again improved considerably more than the GTM group, but regressed significantly in extended learning by comparing with the scores of their immediate post-test. Both protocol and interview data reveal a frequent use of ontological explanations among subjects of both groups to understand the distinction between count and mass nouns.
This study serves as a pilot experiment into the pedagogical application of cognitive instruction to the learning of count and mass nouns. Implications drawn from this study indicate a potent viability of applying the cognitive instruction method to foreign language classrooms. Some suggestions are further discussed for future research.