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Sociocultural Theory and Mediated Learning

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1 Sociocultural Theory and Mediated Learning
Dr Gabriela Meier

2 Today’s objectives Review of IIO through the article: Pica 2005
Presentations I – critically engage with diverse language learning contexts Gain an elementary understanding of socio-cultural theory and its application to the field of second language learning. Introduction to concept maps: Task for next week

3 Views of learning Stimulus-response model (behaviourism)
Cognitive models (innatism, constructivism, information processing) Input – interaction – output - Computational metaphor (based on cognitive psychology and linguistics) Socio-cultural model (based on social psychology)

4 Discussion In your language learning experience…
do you ever think in the L2? if so, in what type of situations? Do you ever talk in the L2 with a fellow L2 learner? Do you feel it helps you in mastering the L2? Why? Why not?

5 Overview of the session
1. Vygotskian socio-cultural theory – key principles. Language in SCT Mediation Zone of proximal development (ZPD) Regulation Scaffolding Learning metaphors 2. Reflecting on your own learning.

6 SCT Draws on: Lev Vygotsky (1987) Alexei Nikolaevich Leont’ev (1978)
James V. Wertsch (1985) Etc.

7 Lev Vygotsky (1896 – 1934) Social psychologist
He was a contemporary of Jean Piaget. His work, which was not translated into English until 1962, is mainly concerned with general ideas about learning (not with language specifically).

8 Literary Works Thought and Language Thinking and Speech
Crisis in Psychology Mind and Society Collected Works 6 volumes His Books were published after his death in They were not released or known of in the West until 1958. ~Thought and Language came out in 1962 but he wrote it in 1934. ~ Lev wrote Crisis in Psychology in It tells about the nature of a crisis, development of sciences and trends in psychology. ~ Mind and society was published in 1978.

9 Language in SCT Vygotsky was concerned with the relationship between thought and language. He saw language as the means for mediating higher level thinking skills. Emphasis on semantic properties of language rather than its formal properties. Emphasis on meaning rather than form.

10 Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980) Developmental psychologist Stages of development 0-2 years : sensorimotor 2-7 years: preoperational 7-11 years: concrete operational years: formal operational

11 Vygotsky and Piaget Who stands for which model?
Learning leads development versus Development leads learning

12 Vygotsky Best known for his work on Learning as a social interaction
An infant establishes meaning in the interaction with care givers (intermental) and then internalises it (intramental).

13 The social origin of mental functioning:
”Any function in the child`s cultural development appears twice, or on two planes. First it appears on the social plane, and then on the psychological plane. First it appears between people as an interpsychological category, and then within the child as an intrapsycholgical category.” (Vygotsky, 1978:57)

14 Important SCT concepts
Mediation ZPD Regulation Scaffolding

15 Mediation

16 The mediated mind The role of artifacts (tools and activities) and other people in learning.

17 The importance of tools
Humans use tools to understand and mediate their social and physical environments Tools are socially generated and transmitted within cultures through joint activity

18 Mediated action M Artefact S O Subject Object
Subject and object are seen not only as ”directly” connected but simultaneously as ”indirectly” connected through a medium constituted of artefacts. (Cole 2003:119)

19 Mediated action Fishing rod FISH (Supper!) Fisherman

20 What is an artefact (artifact)?
How does this relate to language learning?

21 Mediated action and SLA
M (artefact) Concrete: dictionary Symbolic: language Social: significant other O: Understanding a text S:L2 Learner

22 Zone of Proximal Development

23 Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)
(the zone of potential/ next development) ‘the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers.’ (Vygotsky, 1978: 86).

24 ZPDZone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

25 Regulation

26 The importance of other people
REGULATION AND ASSISTED PERFORMANCE. Object-regulation (have no control over objects) Other-regulation (gain control with assistance of socioculturally-organized concepts, artefacts and activities) Self-regulation (gain control through inner speech)

27 From other to self regulation in ZPD
                                    From other to self regulation in ZPD transition from other-regulation activity (inter-mental) self-regulation activity (intra-mental) = learner gains increasing control over learning behaviours and the environment (Lantolf & Appel, 1994).

28 Scaffolding

29 Scaffolding Vygotsky believed that when a student is at the zone of proximal development for a particular task, providing the appropriate assistance (scaffolding) will give the learner the extra help to achieve the task. Once the student, with the benefit of scaffolding, masters the task, the scaffolding can then be removed and the student will then be able to complete the task again on his own. (from other to self regulation) Theory developed by Jerôme Bruner in 1950s

30 Jerôme Bruner *1915 Poland Cognitive psychologist / Professor at Harvard Instruction must be concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the student willing and able to learn (readiness). Instruction should be designed to facilitate extrapolation and or fill in the gaps (going beyond the information given).

31 Scaffolding (Bruner) Scaffolding is a form of adult assistance that enables a child or novice to solve a problem, carry out a task or achieve a goal which would be beyond his unassisted efforts. It is a process whereby the adult controls those elements of the task that are initially beyond the learner’s capacity, thus allowing the learner to complete those that are within existing capabilities. (Lantolf & Thorne, 2006: 107).

32 Instructional scaffolding
Instructional scaffolding is the provision of sufficient support to promote learning when concepts and skills are being first introduced to students.

33 Scaffolding What scaffolding do you provide for your learners? And how do they move from other regulation to self regulation?

34 Learning metaphors Acquisition metaphor Participation metaphor
Contribution metaphor

35 Learning metaphors Acquisition metaphor Participation metaphor
‘knowledge as a commodity that is accumulated by the learner’ (Pavlenko and Lantolf 2000:155–6) Participation metaphor ‘obliges us to think of learning “as aprocess of becoming members of a certain community”’ (Sfard 1998:6) Contribution metaphor understands the language learner as a potential contributor to common goals. (Grabois 2008:285)

36 Sociocultural theory and classroom practice
Sociocultural theory highlights the importance of people, activities and tools in supporting learning and development. It suggests that classroom activities and practices need to be designed to enable learners to work within their ZPD.

37 The problem with operationalizing the concept of the ZPD in our classrooms.
How do we establish a child’s current level of development? How do we know when to increase/ reduce our level of assistance or support? How can we teach in ways that can accommodate the very different development needs of our learners? If the ZPD is ultimately best understood as an activity between learner and mediating artefact/ significant other then is it possible to make any pedagogical generalizations at all?

38 Some pedagogical insights developed from socio-cultural theory
Sociocultural theory stresses the important role that people and artefacts play in learning. According to SCT, learning is not an individual ‘autonomous’ process and so the quality of the learning experience provided by teachers is significant to the learning journey of the learner. Based on SCT Qualities of good mediation/scaffolding. Dynamic assessment (within ZPD) Differentiated instruction (activities and tasks)

39 Recap What’s difference between socio-cultural perspectives on learning and other perspectives (Behaviourism, Cognitive psychology? What are them main concepts related to socio-cultural theory?

40 Vygotskian SCT compared
Vygotsky and Piaget Learning leads development versus development leads learning) Vygotsky and Chomsky From inside to outside versus from outside to inside Vygotsky’s ZPD versus Krashen’s i+ 1 Quality of input versus quality of dynamic interaction between learner and significant other Vygotsky and Behaviourism Learning from the world versus learning in the world.

41 Some SC theorists OR ‘Neo-Vygotskians’
In Russia by Leont’ev, especially interaction of consciousness and activity – elaborated as version of activity theory promoted by Engeström. In USA developed in work of Bruner, Cole and Wertsch in developmental psychology, cultural anthropology and sociolinguistics. This strand is most commonly called sociocultural or cultural-historical. In N. America developed in relation to second language learning by Lantolf (1994; Lantolf and Appel; Lantolf, 2000; Pavlenko, **2004; Swain et al, 2002. In UK delivered in relation to general classroom studies by Mercer (1995; 2000) & Wells (1999).

42 SCT and its followers in SLA
Professor James P. Lantolf Penn State University, USA

43 SLA authors on SCT Lantolf & Poehner 2011 Ellis 2008
Lantolf and Thorne 2006 Kinginger 2002 Nassaji and Cumming 2000 Dunn and Lantolf 1998 Lantolf and Aljaafreh 1995

44 cognition or social interaction?
Question: What comes first in the learning process cognition or social interaction?

45 Teacher-student or student-student?
“Dialogue among learners can be as effective as instructional conversations between teachers and learners. Working collaboratively, people are able to co-construct distributed expertise as a feature of the group [social], and individual members are then able to exploit this expertise as an occasion for learning to happen [cognition]. (…) Learners are capable of scaffolding each other through the use of strategies that parallel those relied upon by experts.” Lantolf, 2002:106

46 Social interaction is central…
…cognition originates in social interaction and is shaped by cultural and sociopolitical processes. That is, cultural and sociopolitical processes are central, rather than incidental, to cognitive development. “ Watson-Gegeo 2004: 332 How does this relate to Pica’s (2005) article?

47 Our teaching is based on combination
IIO Student reading Interactive lectures Output – presentation, essays Feedback SCT Dynamic assessment (formative & summative) Social participation in class, learning as a social activity Essay based on specific context known to you (ZPD)

48 Task: concept map Task: produce a concept map  See hand out
Please construct a concept map – that reflects the following: Main strands of theoretical thinking with regard to how people learn Main theories relating to first language learning / second language learning Main theorists Can you position your own language learning context in this?  See hand out

49 Next week: Learner strategies and styles
Today’s objectives Next week: Learner strategies and styles Review of IIO through the article: Pica 2005 Presentations I – critically engage with diverse language learning contexts Gain an elementary understanding of socio-cultural theory and its application to the field of second language learning. Introduction to concept maps: Task for next week

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