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Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in Terms of Application to Second Language Acquisition
 

Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in Terms of Application to Second Language Acquisition

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    Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in Terms of Application to Second Language Acquisition Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in Terms of Application to Second Language Acquisition Document Transcript

    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 1 Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in Terms of Application to SLA Natalia Reilly Copyright © Natalia Reilly, 2012
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 2 Introduction The application of Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory to second language acquisition helps L2 learners bring their proficiency in a second language closer to the level of their first language. The application of this particular theory is helpful for several reasons. First, the theory takes into consideration the external as well as internal stages of human cognitive development. So, the theory provides the opportunity for the research of the social aspects of communication as well as mental functions of cognition, and therefore, for obtaining varied results for further development of SLA theory (Anton & DiCamilla, 1999; Brooks & Donato, 1994; Evensen, 2007; Lantolf, 2006; Nassaji, 2006; Zuengler & Miller, 2006). Second, one of the main Vygotsky’s concepts – the zone of proximal development (ZPD) – provides the explanations of the conditions (socio-cultural and cognitive) which are necessary for the processes of human learning. The conditions for the further learning consist of already existing knowledge, the social interaction with the more knowledgeable ones, and the transformation of the external processes into internal (cognitive) processes and functions (Anton et al., 1999; Brooks & Donato, 1994; Kinginger, 2002; Lantolf, 2006; Nassaji & Cumming, 2000; Ohta, 1995, 2005). Consequently, within the contours of the mentioned two concepts of the Vygoskian theory (the existence of social and cognitive elements in the processes of SLA and the concept of the zone of proximate development), the following three issues can be emphasized. The first issue is a variety of schemes for interpretation and, therefore, for a broad range of applications of the concept of the zone of proximal development in second language acquisition research. The variety of applications may lie, for example, in the phenomenon that the conservative as well as progressive educators while acclaiming the matter of the ZPD,
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 3 provide different interpretations of its meaning (Kinginger, 2002; Nassaji & Swain, 2000), or in the researches of the ZPD in L2 learner-written material collaboration (Appel & Lantolf, 1994; McCafferty, 1994; Ohta, 2005), or in the researches concerning the development of higher potential level of SLA in the ZPD in creative writing (Tin, 2011). The second issue considers private speech, or self-talk, – socially originated, verbalized, but internal speech. Although dialogic in nature, private speech changes its function: it is used by L2 learners to organize, plan, direct or evaluate the problem solving process while encountering a difficult task. The issue is important because this evolution of speech – from social to self- directed to internalized – exemplifies the path of higher mental functions including second language acquisition (Anton et al., 1999; Lantolf, 2006a, 2006b, 1994; McCafferty, 1994, 1992; Schinke-Llano, 1993; Tarone & Swain, 1995). The third issue is the functions of L1 in the process of L2 acquisition. Because both languages – L1 and L2 – are the tools of second language acquisition in the process of L2 internalization, which is the move from the imitation to private and inner speech, and to the capacity of purposeful and autonomous self-regulated expression in L2, the issue of the functions of L1 is important (Anton et el., 1999; Brooks & Donato, 1994; Brooks, Donato & McGlone, 1997; Lantolf, 2006; McCafferty, 1992, 1994; Tin, 2011). The studies reveal the role of L1 in SLA and the connections between the emerging second language private speech and the cultural heritage of the first language. Thus, the following is the analysis of the main concepts of Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory and its entailed issues. The analysis focuses on the possibilities of the development of the SLA theory for the purpose of minimizing the gap between learners’ proficiencies in their first and second languages.
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 4 Main Concepts of Vygotsky’s Theory in Application to SLA Social and Cognitive Processes of SLA Second language acquisition involves two kinds of processes – social and cognitive. The Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory gives the opportunity to synthesize the two processes and to provide the most complete view on the development of L2. As it is mentioned in the works of Brooks and Donato (1994), Lantolf (2006, 1994), Nassaji (2006), Thorne (2005), Zuengler and Miller (2006), Vygotsky focused on the connections between people and the sociocultural context in which they act and interact in shared experiences thus obtaining knew knowledge. According to Vygotsky, social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development, yet, social and cognitive processes are inseparable: “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)” (As cited in Thorne, 2005, p. 395). The notions of interpsychological and intrapsychological processes in SLA can be traced in more researches, such as those conducted by Anton and DiCamilla (1999), and Brooks and Donato (1994, 1997). Thus, Anton in her research concerning the socio-cognitive functions of L1 in the collaborative interaction of adult learners of Spanish in the L2 classroom, has interpreted the functions of L1 in two ways: in interpsychological terms – as the construction of scaffodled help and the establishment of intersubjectivity, and in intrapsychological terms – as the use of private speech. The other researchers, Brooks and Donato, having analyzed speech data from adolescent learners of Spanish who were engaged in a problem-solving speaking task, have considered that if interaction lacks intrapsychological elements, the learning does not occur,
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 5 in small-group processes, language learning activity must be viewed as cognitive activity and not merely the rehearsal and eventual acquisition of linguistic forms … it is not only the communicative activity or contents of the lesson that is paramount, but engagement with and control of communicative interactions that will ultimately benefit the foreign language learner (Brooks et el., 1994, pp. 272, 273). In 1997 Brooks and Donato continued their research of the role of sociocultural and cognitive processes in SLA. They studied student discourse of three pairs of third-semester intermediate- level learners of Spanish at the university level. The students had to speak in the target language to accomplish a given task of discussing the variety of problems, such as difficulties with vocabulary or how to rehearse target language forms. The research confirmed the previous conclusion that if the purpose and function of learner language are not clearly understood, the collaboration doesn’t lead to learning, that mere collaboration is not enough, and that the most important part in second language learning is “how forms of collaboration and social interaction unite the development of second-language orality with an individual’s cognitive functioning” (Brooks et el., 1997, p. 534). Moreover, Lantolf (2006a, 2006b, 1994) has stated that social and cognitive processes (mediation and internalization) are two central constructions in Vygotsky’s theory in terms of application to the development of SLA theory, “I concentrate on two areas that I believe are particularly important, especially with regard to future research: L2 mediation and the internalization of L2s” (2006a, p. 68). This theme of the further development of the SLA theory by applying the Vygotskyan apparent dualism between social interaction and cognitive, neurological characteristics of second language learning are continued by recent researches. Evensen (2007) has suggested that more considerate and less confrontational understanding of
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 6 social and cognitive aspects of Vygotsky’s theory may help to shed new light on the theory of second language acquisition, I have sought to demonstrate the radical possibility – that a socially oriented, multi-plane framework may be useful for understanding even cognitive or neurological aspects of learning. Vygotsky’s dictum that learning and development moves from intermental to intramental seems to imply exactly such a possibility… The inner logic of a mediational system is appropriated by learners, but once appropriated, its inner logic will affect its ‘users’ in return. Cognitive structures … may be qualitatively restructured or transformed as such mediated processes continue (p. 348). So, learning occurs only when the social interaction undergoes the transformation from external processes into internal (cognitive) processes and functions. This synthesis of sociocultural and cognitive aspects in the Vygotskian approach to the process of second language acquisition contributes to the development of the SLA theory by the means of overcoming the conflicting debates concerning cognitive and social understandings of learning. As Zuengler (2006) pointed out, “development doesn’t proceed as the unfolding of inborn capacities, but as the transformation of innate capacities once they intertwine with socioculturally constructed mediational means” (pp.38,39). This can prove that cognitive and sociocultural perspectives are not two parallel SLA worlds, but the reflection of two essential elements of learning. Zone of Proximal Development One of the main concepts of Vygotsky’s theory is the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). According to Vygotsky, the ZPD is
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 7 the difference between the child’s developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the higher level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers (As cited in Ohta, 1995). So, the ZPD is the zone where learning occurs. As it has been pointed out in the previous unit concerning social and cognitive processes in second language acquisition, learning occurs only when the external processes of social interaction with the more knowledgeable ones are transformed into internal (cognitive) processes and functions. This transformation takes place in the zone of proximal development, “The transfer of functions from the social (or interpsychological) domain to the cognitive (or intrapsychological) plane occurs within the zone of proximal development (ZPD)” (Anton et el., 1999). It means that the concept of the ZPD explains the conditions of the processes of human learning. For this reason, many researchers in the field of Vygotskian approach to SLA are focusing on the zone of proximal development (Anton et al., 1999; Brooks & Donato, 1994; Kinginger, 2002; Lantolf, 2006; Nassaji & Cumming, 2000; Ohta, 1995, 2005). Thus, Ohta, (1995) analyzed students’ learning and progressing by means of collaborative interaction within the ZPD. Ohta, while conducting a qualitative research of a combined – teacher leading and peer pair work – interaction with two Japanese intermediate-level learners, conceptualized the ZPD for SLA purposes by defining it as the difference between the L2 learner’s developmental level as determined by independent language use, and the higher level of potential development as determined by how language is used in collaboration with a more capable interlocutor (p. 96).
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 8 Within the zone of proximal development the improvement of L2 occurs by means of scaffolding which is “the concept … [that] originates with the work of Wood et al. (1976) and serves as a metaphor for the interaction between an expert and a novice engaged in a problem- solving task” (Anton et al., 1999, p. 235). Ohta especially emphasized the importance of learner- learner communicative interaction in the process of scaffolding. Ohta stated “examining learner interaction in the ZPD provides a richer view of L2 development, allowing the researcher to examine what learners are able to do with language and how language development occurs” (p. 97). One of the important features of the occurring development of L2 highlighted by Ohta was the fact that “in learner-learner interaction … the learners contribute [not only their established knowledge, but also] their individual differences in matures and maturing skills” (p. 97), and as a result, “the more advanced learner can also benefit from interaction with a learner less proficient in the L2 as learner strengths are collaboratively joined” (p. 93). The concept of collaboratively joined efforts of two or more learners and its importance in second language acquisition was also pointed out by Anton et al. as intersubjectivity (1999). The application of the zone of proximal development to SLA research also helps reveal new features of the ZPD concept. According to Nassaji and Cummings (2000), the study of teacher-student interaction via dialogue journals written over ten months elucidated “some of the salient qualities of the ZPD that they mutually constructed in this context over time” (Nassaji et al., 2000). The cooperative correspondence took place between a six year Farsi speaker at the beginner level of learning English and his Canadian teacher. In the process, ninety-five exchanges in interactive were analyzed. The longitude of the research and the contrastive interaction between a much more knowledgeable one (a teacher) and a complete novice (a six
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 9 year old beginner) allowed to bring to light two salient characteristics of the ZPD: “ (a) sustained intersubjectivity and (b) complementary, asymmetric scaffolding” (p. 103). Furthermore, the application of the ZPD in its dialectical aspect allows to analyze language learning holistically by perceiving integrally unified, interactive phenomenon of language. As Nassaji and Cummings (2000) in the same study point out, “Vygotsky claimed that learning is formed through the ZPD, which creates ‘a dialectic unity of learning-and- development’” (p. 97) where “the culturally mediated interaction among people in the zone of proximate development is internalized, becoming a new function of the individual” (p. 98). This brings the language acquisition to the pragmatic level, and vice versa – dialectically speaking, the counter process is going on, in which “sociolingustically oriented theories have traced how the language varieties that adults develop in a second language acquisition arise from pragmatic functions people try to fulfill while communicating” (p. 96). In the relation to the results of this particular study, the authors emphasized that This dialogue journal writing set a long-term context for the student and teacher to communicate routinely through written English … in which both participants reciprocally shared common knowledge, purposes and tools of communication, evidently understanding and appreciating them. … A sociocultural perspective highlights teaching and learning in conjunction and close-up, looking to fundamental characteristics of the ZPD as a set of interactive processes wherein learning occurs because teaching facilitates it … instead of fragmenting [language] essential interconnectedness … for example, by treating language as a system of elements divorced from their social functions and context (pp. 114, 115).
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 10 The dialectic aspect of the ZPD was also emphasized in studies of such authors as Nassaji and Swain (2000), and Kinginger (2002). According to Kinginger, the dialectical interpretation of the ZDP hints at the possibility of recovering the unity within a dialectic synthesis … through recognition of the notion that language-in-use constitutes and object of reflection, raising students awareness to all levels: metalinguistic, metadiscursive, metapragmatic, metacultural (p. 257). The comparative researches continue to support the general idea of applicability of the ZPD concept to second language learning theory. Thus, Nassaji and Swain (2000) in their qualitative and quantitative study of two Korean students’ English compositional writings compared help provided within the ZPD with random help. The ZPD student was provided with help to be moved gradually to the needed level “using prompts through the Regulatory Scale developed by Aljaafreh and Lantolf (1994)” (Nassaji et el., 2012). At the same time, the non- ZPD student was provided with random help in the form of prompts without regarding her ZPD. As the research has proved, “help provided within the ZPD was more effective than help provided randomly” (Nassaji et el., 2012). Therefore, these results continue to prove the research reliability of the ZPD approach and show the perspectives of the further development of the theory of SLA by applying to the study the concept of the zone of proximate development. Some Entailed Aspects of Vygotsky’s Theory in Application to SLA Variety of Interpretations and Applications of the ZPD The interpretation of the research materials obtained in the studies of the zone of proximate development often depends on the researcher’s theoretical academic domain as it is
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 11 mentioned by such researchers as Kinginger (2002) and Nissaji and Swain (2000). Thus, according to Kinginger, the representatives of both – the conservative and progressive domains of SLA studies acclaim the matter of the ZPD, yet they provide different interpretations of its meaning. In the interpretation of conservative scholars “interactions where students participate in reaching the instructor’s goal are identified as ‘scaffolding’, as constructing the ZPD … where students comply with their instructor’s directives in producing sentences that are maximally correct” (pp. 254, 255). Nevertheless, the important aspect of ZPD is missing here – it is the social activity of students. In the pseudo-ZPD studies students “are invited to participate and even to share the floor; but they are not authorized to question what they are accomplishing and why” (p.255). Usually conservative educators uncritically linked the ZPD “to Krashen’s Monitor Model in order to reinforce a conservative ‘skills’ based practice … [where] the ZPD serves to represent the diffusion of participant roles within canonical classroom discourse (e.g. Gifford and Mullaney, 1999)” (Kinginger, 2002, p. 257). On the other hand, progressive educators “suggest a prospective understanding of language learning, even though they limit the scope of this understanding to the specific case of the negotiation of linguistic structures” (p. 257). This approach to ZPD through prospective understanding was also considered by Nassaji and Swain, 2000, who, after Wells, 1998, interpret the ZPD “not as a fixed trait of the learner but as an emergent and open-ended one that unfolds through interaction and expands the potential for learning by providing opportunities which were not anticipated in the first place” (Nassaji and Swain, p. 36). One more interpretation of the ZPD occurs with the introduction of a written text as a communicator. The mainstream research in terms of the ZPD is conducted in peer-peer or teacher-pupil collaborative interaction, yet the ZPD as a space where second language learning
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 12 can take place is not limited by these collaborations only. In her later study, Ohta (2005) assumed that learning within the ZPD occurs also in interaction with a written source, “The ZPD is a key developmental space for language learning acquisition. As learners bump up against their own limitations and are assisted to move beyond them with the help of teacher, peer, or written source, development follows” (p. 513). How the processes of interaction and scaffolded help occur via communication with a written source can be partly explained by the post-modern notion (Appel & Lantolf, 1994) that the meaning of the text is created by the reader at certain level of the reader’s competence; then the created meaning affects the reader’s comprehension; then, in its turn, the emerged comprehension creates a next in turn meaning at the higher level of the reader’s competence, and the dialectical process of the mutual meaning-comprehension influence will go on, “One of the consequences of the post-modernist movement … is the recognition of the possibility that meaning does not reside in texts per se, but is created through some type of reader-text interaction” (p. 449). Therefore, here we have one more example of Vygotsky’s dialectical (versus linear) approach to the psychological development, emphasized by McCafferty (1994), when “development is a complex dialectical process characterized by … metamorphosis or qualitative transformation of one form into another, intertwining of external and internal factors” (Vygotsky, 1978, as cited in McCafferty, 1994). The other connection of the ZPD with a written source is the interpretation of the emergence of more complex L2 in creative writing tasks with high formal constraints (acrostics) in comparison with those of looser formal constraints (similes) (Tin, 2010). The study was conducted over 2 weeks with 23 non-native 18-22 year-old English speakers from a university in Indonesia who wrote a number of poems in pairs and individually; students’ discussions in pairs were audio taped and analyzed. As Tin has pointed out, the creative writing tasks mean the play
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 13 with the language; yet only the play where the rules are strictly defined creates the ZPD and provides the scaffolding that brings students to the higher level of potential development. Acrostic (poem w/formal constrains) Simile (free style poem) Joy Jar of amazing feeling Overcoming sadness You should get it (p. 222) Our friend is like an orange She always freshes us She is stubborn when unripe But wiser when ripe (p. 229) The more complex L2 (the poem on the left) emerges because the formal constraints require students “to develop new compositional strategies and syntactic structures, combining known familiar utterances in unfamiliar ways in order to construct new meaning” (p. 231). So, according to Tin, only the play with acrostics gives students the Vygotskian opportunity to perform “a head taller than they are” (Vygotsky, 1978 as cited in Tin, 2010, p. 232). Private Speech Private speech is one of the most important socio-cognitive functions within the zone of proximal development. Private speech is a self-talk. It is socially originated, verbalized, but internal speech dialogic in nature (Anton et al., 1999; Appel & Lantolf, 1994; Lantolf, 2006a, 2006b, 1994; McCafferty, 1994, 1992). Although socially originated and dialogic, private speech changes its function: it is used by a L2 learner to organize, plan, direct or evaluate the problem solving while encountering a difficult task. According to Anton and DiCamilla (1999), “private speech is social in its genesis and may therefore be social or communicative in its appearance, but it nevertheless psychological in function. That is, it is speech directed to the self for the purpose of directing and organizing one’s mental activity” (p. 235). This statement is rooted in Vygotsky’s belief that
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 14 with the acquisition of language, children gain access to the most powerful of “mental tools,” that they use language to transform the cognitive functions appropriated through interpersonal experience into intrapersonal functions. In children … this transformation is greatly facilitated through the use of speech for the self, or private speech (As cited in McCafferty, 1994). In application to SLA theory, the issue of private speech helps understand how private speech mediates second language learning. In the study of the nature of private speech and its role in the mental activity in the process of recalling and comprehending written texts, Appel and Lantolf (1994) showed “how speaking, especially in the form of private speech …, not only mediates the subjects’ attempts to report on what they understand from the text, but also how it serves as the process through which they come to comprehend the text” (Appel & Lantolf, 1994, p.439). The researches also proved the nature of private speech to be social. In this study there were 28 participants – all young adults: 14 native speakers of English and 14 advanced English speakers from a German university. The subjects were given two texts – one narrative (a typical children’s fairy tale) and one expository (about propagation of coffee plants). The subjects were instructed to read the texts carefully and recall them in a while orally being alone in the room; no time restrictions were imposed. The responses were tape recorded and analyzed. I was expected that the oral responses would be “marked by a high frequency of metacomments, or what we refer to as private speech” (Appel et al., 1994, p. 439). The metacomments in forms of macrostructures – “the gist of the text for the reader” (p. 443) showed that the more difficult the task was and the less proficient the speakers were, the more macrostructures in increasing variability were produced. Concerning the nature of private speech Appel and Lantolf (1994) concluded,
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 15 private speech, as a way of mediating mental activity, … is rooted in communicative speech. In our view all of this means that people can construct meaning from a text … by conversing with others, with the self in presence of others, or, as in the case of our subjects, with the self in the presence of no one other than the self. All of these activities are at their core, social (p. 449). The process of the use of private speech by second language learners was also studied cross-culturally (McCafferty, 1992). The study revealed psychological idiosyncrasy in the manner of using private speech by the L2 learners from the different countries. In this study the “central idea” (McCafferty, p. 181) of Vygotskian theory that cultural-historical background impacts cognitive development was set as a research question to investigate it in terms of private speech. The study considered “the influence of cultural background to see how adult second language learners of English from two different cultural backgrounds (Asian [15] and Hispanic [15] [all ESL college students]) attempt to gain self-regulation in a communicative task in their L2” (p. 181). The subjects were asked to construct a narrative based on a story as portrayed through a series of six pictures. The results showed that the Hispanic subjects were using far more different kinds of utterances of private speech than the Asians (Hispanics – 61-16, Asians – 4-7). The differences in the use of private speech by ESL learners from two different cultural contexts, also showed, according to McCafferty, that “the L2 learners’ use of private speech … would seem to indicate the degree to which individual autonomy is valued within cultures” (p. 188). Functions of L1 in SLA The functions of L1 in second language acquisition closely related to the notion of private speech: L1 is one of the tools of second language acquisition in the process of L2 internalization.
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 16 In this process learners help themselves by producing private speech in L1 or L2 to obtain the capacity of purposeful and autonomous self-regulated expression in L2 (Anton et el., 1999; Brooks, Donato & McGlone, 1997; Lantolf, 2006; Tin, 2011). So, the question of how second language learners’ communication in L1 and L2 affects their second language acquisition is an important issue in the theory of SLA. There are several opinions concerning the use and the role of L1 in the second language learning process. Some researchers, such as Anton and DiCamilla (1999), emphasize the beneficial functions of L1 in general, while others (Brooks & Donato, 1994; Brooks, Donato & McGlone, 1997; Lantolf, 2006; McCafferty, 1992, 1994; Tin, 2011) emphasize the transitional role of L1, considering its beneficial role mainly at the early stages of SLA. Thus, in their research, Anton and DiCamilla (1999) studied the interaction of five pairs of the beginner Spanish learners (all – young adults, native speakers of English) in their L1 for solving L2 writing tasks. Three sessions of the intense course of Spanish were recorded and analyzed. The results showed that the functions “of L1 in the second language learning process are beneficial since it acts as a critical psychological tool that enables L2 learners to construct effective collaborative dialogue in the completion of meaning-based language task” (p. 245). Moreover, when analyzing the results of the experiment, the authors marked out two types of L1 functions – interpsychological (construction of scaffolded help and establishment of itersubjectivity) and intrapsychological (use of private speech). The variations of the use of L1 in two different writing tasks are revealed in the research concerning writing acrostics (structured poems) and similes (freestyle poems) (Tin, 2011). This study has been described here in the unit Private Speech. Tin called the finding “unplanned insight … offering a new way of regarding the use of the L1 vs. the L2 in collaborative writing
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 17 tasks” (p. 231). First, the author mentions the results of the previous studies conducted by Swain and Lapkin (2000), where, according to Tin, “pair writing stimulates collaborative dialogue in the L1 and creation of text in the target language (Tin, 2011, p. 231). In her research Tin has proved the different usages of L1 and L2 in the two different tasks while analyzing private speech. The author has come to the following conclusion, “In acrostics, conceptual systems are activated through the L2 directly. … However, in similes, concepts are first retrieved in the L1 then translated into the L2” (p. 232). So, in acrostics, “the formal constraints … allow students to conceptually mediate L2 directly, strengthening the link between L2 lexicon and conceptual representation” (p. 232), while in similes, “L1 becomes a communicative strategy and a cognitive tool to access L2 forms that are available” (p. 232). The most of the researchers (Brooks, Donato & McGlone, 1997; Lantolf, 2006; McCafferty, 1992, 1994) point out the transitional role of dialogic L1 in helping L2 learners overcome the beginner stage of communicative interaction in L1 and move to the stage of pure L2 interaction. First of all, the researchers recognized that communication in L1 at the early stages of learning is not the evidence that students are off-task, or sabotage the activity, or unable to work in small groups. In this experiment, native speakers of English learning Spanish (university students of intermediate level) were specifically instructed to speak in L2 only while performing L2 tasks (jig-saw activity with pictures). In spite of this, the subjects involved private speech in both L1 and L2 when they encountered difficulties. According to the authors, “The implication of these findings is that learners can gain self-regulation if provided multiple opportunities to collaborate” (Brooks, Donato & McGlone, 1997, p. 532). The authors stated that, at least initially, “in the attempts to regulate their participation in collaborative tasks, … they [L2 learners] can carry out the tasks in the native language,” because “systematic
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 18 opportunities for collaboration with the target language may eventually enable individuals to perform cognitively demanding tasks in the target language” (p. 534). From the Vygotskian perspective “all forms of collaboration and social interaction unite the development of second- language orality with an individual’s cognitive functioning” (p. 534), and L1 is considered to be one of these collaborative forms of socio-cultural interaction. Thus, L1 becomes a cognitive tool as well as a communicative strategy to “access L2 forms that are available” (Anton et el., 1999, p. 238). Conclusion Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory in terms of second language acquisition considers the main features of the SLA processes. According to the theory, human development goes through the following stages: mediation – communication through words, gestures, facial expressions, imitation, and internalization/appropriation – the creative use of language with the help of private speech (Anton & DiCamilla, 1999; Brooks & Donato, 1994; Evensen, 2007; Lantolf, 2006; Nassaji, 2006; Nassaji & Cumming, 2000; Ohta, 1995, 2005; Zuengler & Miller, 2006). Thus, the theory considers the connections between the socio-cultural aspects and cognitive linguistic. Moreover, the Vygotskian approach takes into consideration the necessary conditions of the processes of SLA. The conditions of second language acquisition are considered in terms of the zone of proximate development and consist of already existing knowledge, the social interaction, and the transformation of the external processes into cognitive ones (Anton et al., 1999; Brooks & Donato, 1994; Kinginger, 2002; Lantolf, 2006; Nassaji & Cumming, 2000; Ohta, 1995, 2005). Within the contours of the socio-cultural/cognitive processes and conditions more issues are considered. Such as private speech that mediates and regulates mental functions in complex cognitive tasks as well as facilitates the internalization of mental functions. As a result, second
    • Reilly_Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory in SLA 19 language learners become self-regulated in the process of private speech turning into inner speech (Anton et al., 1999; Appel & Lantolf, 1994; Lantolf, 2006a, 2006b, 1994; McCafferty, 1994, 1992). Also, in connection with private speech, the role of L1 in acquisition of the target language is considered. According to Vygotsky, the higher cognitive development originates in social interaction by means of psychological and communicative tools. Because the native language (L1) is one of the critical tools in bringing already existing knowledge to the social interaction and in transforming the external processes into cognitive functions, the role of L1 in second language acquisition is beneficial in solving meaning-based language tasks (Anton et el., 1999; Brooks, Donato & McGlone, 1997; Lantolf, 2006; Tin, 2011). Finally, Vygotskian theory creates perspectives for future research in the field of the theory of SLA. Some aspects that remain to be established are: the connections between the socio-cultural processes and cognitive linguistic ones in terms of the zone of proximate development and private speech, the further theoretical explanation of scaffolding through the concept of regulation, the transmission of cultural knowledge as socially based bringing second language acquisition to the pragmatic level (Anton et al., 1999; Lantolf, 2006a, 2006b, 1994; McCafferty, 1994, 1992; Nassaji and Swain, 2000; Schinke-Llano, 1993; Ohta, 1995, 2000; Tarone & Swain, 1995)
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