The author addresses key questions of foreign language teaching: How does foreign language learning take place? What is the mechanism of foreign language use and learning? What are the sources of our understanding of these processes? What significance does our understanding have for foreign language teaching? The main argument is that, in order to deal with the complexity of language learning and meet the current demands for foreign language competency, we must employ the framework of an empirical, relatively autonomous discipline of Foreign Language Didactics, constituted as a "normal" science which strives to understand foreign language learning as its subject-matter. This constructivist psycholinguistic conception targets language learning processes in the real world, i.e. as language use in the context of verbal communication, i.e. comprehension and production in speech and writing. The processes are represented as taking place in the learner's cognitive system for information processing in communicative interaction, a universal human phenomenon. This perspective leads to systematic options and strategies for the practical teaching of foreign languages with focus on English as a world language.
Maria Dakowska is a Professor of Applied Linguistics affiliated with the Institute of English Studies at the University of Warsaw (Poland). She works with EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher trainees, lectures, as well as conducts MA and PhD seminars on TEFL. Her academic interests range from Foreign Language Didactics as a scientific discipline to conceptions, current developments and strategies of teaching English as a foreign language. She has studied at universities in Britain, the US and Germany, authored six monographs and numerous articles in Poland and abroad.