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The Constructivist Approach to Language Teaching & Learning

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1 The Constructivist Approach to Language Teaching & Learning
Ed-Psych Course (TEFL & ICT MA Program) Pr. Tamer Youssef & Pr. Ghaicha Abdallah Prepared by: Ait Taleb Abdelaziz Driouch Aziz Jamaati Zakaria

2 Out line 1.4. Monitor & encourage S use of private speech.
I- Historical background of constructivism & Vigotsky theory. I-1. Background and definition. I-2. Social Learning. I-3. Language & Thought. I-4. Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). I-5. Scaffolding - Mediated Learning. - Cognitive Apprenticeship. I-8. Tutoring. II- Teaching Connection: How is Vigotsky theory used in class? 1. How is Vigotsky Theory used in class? 1.1. Assess Ss ZPD Exploit Ss ZPD. 1.3. Use more skilled peers as Ts 1.4. Monitor & encourage S use of private speech. 2. Constructivist Approaches to teaching & Learning: 2.1. top-down processing 2.2. cooperative learning 2.3. discovery learning 2.4. self-regulated learning 2.5. problem solving & thinking Skills. III- Evaluating Vigotsky Theory and General Implications of constructivist approach. 3.1. Comparing Vigotsky to Piaget. 3.2. Implications of Constructivism to language teaching & Learning

3 Historical Background and Definition of Vigotsky theory
Aziz Driouch

4 A brief introduction to constructivism
Generally, constructivism view learning as individually constructed. Learners construct knowledge in their own minds, and the teacher can facilitate this process by making the knowledge presented more meaningful and absorbable via creating and giving chances to the learners to discover new information and consciously use their learning strategies. Simply, teachers should give their learners ladders that lead to higher understanding, yet the students themselves must climb these ladders.

5 "cognitive constructivism" which is about how the individual learner understands things, in terms of developmental stages - Piaget.   "social constructivism", which emphasizes how meanings and understandings grow out of social encounters—Vygotsky.

6 Constructivism — particularly in its "social" forms — suggests that the learner is much more actively involved in constructing their knowledge rather than passively receiving the latter from their environments--a teacher , peers, parents…- in order to create/ construct new meanings.

7 Social learning theory:
constructivist thought draws most heavily on Vygotsky’s theories, which have been used to support instructional methods that emphasize cooperative learning, project- based learning and discovery. Generally, constructivists believe that learning occurs through interaction, and the development of language is social before individual, coming as a result of joint problem solving and cooperative learning

8 Vygotsky (1978) explains: argued that "Every function in the child's cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological).

9 Language and thought: Thought and speech have different roots in humankind, thought being nonverbal and language being nonintellectual in an early stage. But their development lines are not necessarily parallel - they cross again and again. At a certain moment around the age of two, the curves of development of thought and speech, until then separate, meet and join to initiate a new form of behavior. That is when thought becomes verbal and speech becomes rational. A child first seems to use language for superficial social interaction, but at some point this language goes underground to become the structure of the child's thinking.

10 To Vygotsky, a clear understanding of the interrelations between thought and language is necessary for the understanding of intellectual development. Language is not merely an expression of the knowledge the child has acquired. There is a fundamental correspondence between thought and speech in terms of one providing resource to the other; language becoming essential in forming thought and determining personality features.

11 Zone of Proximal Development:
has been defined as "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, p86).

12 In other words, it is the distance of what the learner can accomplish independently, and what that same learner can accomplish while working with a more skilled adult or peer. This zone/ distance defines the actual potential of the learner, because what the learner can do with assistance today is likely to be what the learner will soon be capable of doing autonomously. Cognitive growth is maximized if social interactions occur within the learner’s ZPD.


14 Constructivist theorists suggest that teachers transfer this long-standing and highly effective model of teaching and learning to day-to-day activities in classrooms, both by engaging students in complex tasks and helping them through these and by involving students in cooperative learning groups in which more advanced students help less advanced ones through complex tasks.

15 Scaffolding: within the ZPD, learners interact with more skilled peers or adults to perform a task that those learners can’t do independently. The adults or more skilled peers guide and support the learners to perform these difficult tasks. This guidance is referred as scaffolding.

16 Scaffolding usually follows a three-step sequence.
At first, the adults or more skilled learners assume more responsibility for completing the task. For example, they may modal and explain what they are doing. Second, the learner or the peer guide share responsibility for task completion. The guide gradually relinquishes control to the learner as the learner’s skills increase. Finally, the learner takes full responsibility for completing the task. This final step represents a transition from socially supported performance to independent performance.

17 The notion of mediated learning:
Vygotsky believed that while students are engaged in activities within their social environments, they create their understandings of their worlds. Each environment provides cultural tools that support or mediate students’ activities. Vygotsky identified two types of cultural tools :

18 Technical / physical tools: that are used to act on objects in the environment like: blackboard, pen, spoon,hammer, etc Psychological/symbolic tools: that guide and mediate thoughts and behavior such as: language( to establish contact, influence others etc), mathematics ( when u face a problem of measurement or calculation), etc

19 The notion of cognitive apprenticeship:
This term refers to the relationship in which an expert stretches and supports a novice’s understanding and use of a culture’s skills. In other words, it is the process by which a learner gradually acquires expertise through interaction with an expert, either an adult or more advanced peer

20 In many occupations, new workers learn their jobs through a process of apprenticeship, in which a new worker works closely with an expert, who provides a model, gives feed- back to the less experienced worker, and gradually socializes the new worker into the norms and behaviors of the profession. Student teaching is a form of apprenticeship.

21 Tutoring: basically, tutoring is a cognitive apprenticeship between an expert and a novice. It can take place between an adult and a child or a more-skilled child and a less-skilled child. Individual tutoring is an effective strategy that benefits many students, especially those who are not doing well in a certain subject. Sometimes, it is frustrating to find some students need more individual help than you as their teacher can give while working on the needs of the classroom as a whole. Here, classroom aides, volunteers, and mentoring can help reduce some of this frustration.

22 Teaching connection: How is Vigotsky theory used in class?
Zakaria Jamaati

23 How is Vigotsky theory used in class?
Assess Ss ZPD: Resort to diagnostic assessment (different challenging levels), formative assessment and alternative assessment to determine where to start instruction, the progress of Ss and what point you want to reach. 2. Exploit your Ss ZPD in teaching: Teaching should aim that S reaches the upper limit of the ZPD acquiring higher level of skill and knowledge.

24 How is Vigotsky theory used in class?
T should provide only the support and assistance needed, and encourage timid and hesitant Ss. T needs to differentiate instruction as Ss’ ZPD differ from one another. Homework should be aimed at the Lower limit of ZPD to develop Ss self-esteem  challenging, but Achievable

25 How is Vigotsky theory used in class?
3. Use more-skilled peers as teachers: Remember that it is not just adults that are important in helping children learn: “Children also benefit from the support and guidance of more-skilled children” (Gredler, 2009).

26 How is Vigotsky theory is used in class?
4. Monitor and encourage children’s use of private speech. T should be aware of the developmental change from externally talking to oneself when solving a problem during the preschool years, to privately talking to oneself in the early elementary school years.  In the elementary school years, T is advised to encourage children to internalize and self-regulate their talk to themselves.

27 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
1. Top-Down Processing: Emphasis is on top-down instead of bottom-up instruction: Ss are pushed to deal with complex learning problems and work out with the mediation of T to solve them and discover essential learning skills they need to do that. # Traditional bottom-up process, in which learners are equipped with basic skills, then build on them with more complex skills.

28 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
Ss have to begin with complex, complete and authentic tasks which urges them to use their cognitive knowledge and experience to preform those tasks successfully. T need to use scaffolding in top-down teaching; providing his support if needed and resorting to group work ➔ essential to reach High-order learning (Brooks & Brooks, 1993)

29 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
2. Cooperative Learning: Ss are more likely to discover and comprehend difficult learning concepts if they can interact with each other and exchange ideas about that concept. Advocacy of the social nature of learning. Group and peer work are used to model appropriate ways of thinking, where Ss challenge each others’ misconceptions ➔ cognitive change.

30 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
3. Discovery learning: (Experiential Learning) "We teach a subject not to produce little living libraries on that subject, but rather to get a student to think for himself, to consider matters as an historian does, to take part in the process of Knowledge-getting. Knowing is a process, not a product“ (Bruner:1966, p. 72)

31 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
Bruner (1966) was the first one to coin this component of constructivist approach. Ss are encouraged explore and discover, to learn actively on their own concepts and principles. T should encourage Ss to go through experiences and experiment to discover principles themselves.

32 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
Discovery learning is really beneficial: It arouses S curiosity, motivating him to continue working until he finds answers. S learns independently (Autonomous learning). Develops problem-solving and critical-thinking skills; S must analyze and manipulate information.

33 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
To avoid errors and wasting time, guided discovery learning is highly recommended. (Pressley et al., 2003): ➔ T plays a more active role, prompts clues, structures portions of an activity, or provides outlines.

34 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
4. Self-regulated Learning: “Self-regulated learners are ones who have knowledge of effective learning strategies and how and when to use them” (Bandura, 1991; Dembo & Eaton, 2000; Schunk & Zirnmerman, 1997; Winne, 1997)

35 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
Self-regulated learner is: - highly motivated by learning itself. - very patient with long-term tasks till he is done. - effective learner; combines effective learning strategies, motivation and determination to apply these strategies.

36 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
Self-regulated learner is able to: break complex problems into simple steps. test different solutions before applying them. (Greeno & Goldrnan, 1998) know when to skim or read for deep comprehension. Know how to write for different purposes and for different audiences. (Zimmerman & Iitsantas, 1999)

37 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
5. Problem-solving and Thinking Skills: "Problem-solving is a mental process that involves discovering, analyzing and solving problems. The ultimate goal of problem-solving is to overcome obstacles and find a solution that best resolves the issue.“ Thinking Skills are the mental processes we use to do things like: solve problems, make decisions, ask questions, make plans, pass judgments, organize information and create new ideas.

38 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
General Problem-solving Strategies: (IDEAL) Identify problems and opportunities. Define goals and represent the problem. Explore possible strategies. Anticipate outcomes and act. Look back and learn. (Bransford and Stein 199)

39 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
besides teaching analytical / logical problem solving strategies, T is advised to teach also Creative Problem-solving, in which he prepares students for life outside the classroom; (managing relationships problems, prepare a electronic machine to work, etc.) Engage learners in motivating problem-solving tasks that are build up around appealing and stimulating situations.

40 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
Provide constant feedback, focus on the process and practice rather than the correctness of the solutions. Incorporate thinking skills in lessons and develop a culture of thinking in the class. Encourage S to think out of the box, avoid pre- judgments and consider all solutions before applying one. Develop a supportive, relaxing, open and tolerant learning environment.

41 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
—"Critical thinking is a conception based primarily in particular skills, such as observing, inferring, generalizing, reasoning, evaluating reasoning, and the like. critical thinking is ‘the correct assessing of statements’ (Ennis, 1996)

42 Constructivist Approaches to Teaching & Learning
Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956)

43 I- Comparing cognitive (Piaget) and social constructivism (Vygotsky)
I- Comparing cognitive (Piaget) and social constructivism (Vygotsky). II- General implications of constructivism. Abdelaziz Ait Taleb

44 Comparison of Vygotsky’s and Piaget’s theories
Piaget (Cognitive constructivist) Vygotsky ( Social constructivist) Learning: Individuals “construct” meaning based on prior knowledge and experience .It’s an active process in which the learner transforms information, constructs hypothesis, and makes decisions using his/her mental models. Learning: emphasizes the role of the teacher, parents, peers and other community members in helping learners to master concepts that they would not be able to understand on their own

45 Piaget Vygotsky Socio-cultural Context: Socio-cultural Context:
Little emphasis Knowledge: Individually constructed in the social world Stages: Strong emphasis on stages (sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational) Socio-cultural Context: Strong emphasis Knowledge: Mutually constructed with others Stages: No general stages of development proposed ( It’s assumed that children function and think in similar ways throughout their life)

46 Piaget Vygotsky Role of Language:
Language has a minimal role; cognition primarily directs language Key Processes: Schema, assimilation, accommodation, operations, conservation, classification ( John W.Santrock ) Role of Language: A major role; language plays a powerful role in shaping thought Key Processes: Zone of proximal development, language, dialogue, tools of the culture

47 Task: Complete the text with the appropriate words from the list.

48 Implications of constructivism for teaching and learning
Constructivist teaching seeks to provide an environmentally rich, problem-solving context that encourages the learner’s investigation , invention, insight and inference. ( Alan Pritchard &John Wollard ) Instruction should be built around more complex problems, not problems with clear, correct answers. Instruction must be concerned with experiences and contexts that make students willing & able to learn (readiness) Instruction must be structured so it is easily grasped (spiral organization)

49 In the constructivist classroom, the learners are the makers of meaning and knowledge. Learners are not empty vessels into which knowledge and wisdom is poured. ( Alan Pritchard &John Wollard ) Student interest and effort are more important than textbook content. Experimentation replaces rote learning. Exploration and active learning are important. Learning is collaborative and cooperative, not just individual.

50 The constructivist teacher is one who values learner reflection and cognitive conflict and encourages peer interaction ( Alan Pritchard &John Wollard 2010) The instructor should help negotiate goals and objectives with learners Teachers should adapt curriculum to address students’ suppositions

51 5 E’S: A constructivist instructional model:
This model describes a teaching sequence that can be used for entire programs, specific units and individual lessons.

52 Engage Students are introduced to the instructional task during the ENGAGE stage. They make connections between past and present learning experiences and think about what they’ll learn during the upcoming activities. Do this! Engage the students and get them interested in learning Ex: ask a question, define a problem, surprise them, use problematic situations

53 Explore This phase of the 5 E's provides students with a common base of experiences: Get the students directly involved in the material Act as a facilitator Use their inquiry to drive the process

54 Explain This phase of the 5 E's helps students explain the concepts they have been exploring. This phase also provides opportunities for teachers to introduce formal terms, definitions, and explanations for concepts, processes, skills, or behaviors.

55 Elaborate Students expand on concepts learned Make connections
Apply understandings to own environment & world around them These connections lead to further inquiry & new understandings

56 Evaluate This phase of the 5 E's encourages learners to assess their understanding and abilities and lets teachers evaluate students' understanding of key concepts and skill development.

57 Evaluate On-going diagnostic process
Can occur at all points of the instructional process -Examples: teacher observation, student interviews, portfolios, project & problem based learning products, etc. Used to guide teacher in further planning of lessons

58 References Salivan E,R. (2006). Educational Psychology Theory and Practice. 8th Edition. Boston: Pearson Education. Santrock J,W. (2011). Educational Psychology. 5th Edition. NYC: McGraw Hill. Ennis, R H. (1996) Critical Thinking. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Alan Pritchard& John Wollard( 2010) Psychology for the classroom.

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