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European Journal of Scientific Research ISSN 1450-216X Vol.58 No.1 (2011), pp.44-55 © EuroJournals Publishing, Inc. 2011 http://www.eurojournals.com/ejsr.htm

Contributions of Vygotsky's Theory to Second Language Acquisition

Mohammad Khatib Assistant Professor of Allameh Tabataba'i University E-mail: [email protected] Abstract Vygotsky's (1981) general genetic law of cultural developments states `any function in the individual'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 individual child as an intrapsychological category. Therefore we can say that he has got a dialectical perspective which goes through all his works. We are familiar with his contrastive terminology pairs: lower and higher mental functions, phylogeny and ontogeny, everyday and scientific concepts and so on. For Vygotsky the determinants of human mental development are not biological maturation in ontogenesis and biological adaptation in the course of the struggle for life in phylogenesis, nor the mastery by the human being of the ideas of the universal spirit embedded in the products of culture, nor the relation of social cooperation, but human tool-mediated labor activity. Thus, Vygotsky's very starting idea of the mediation of natural functions by psychological tools entail the need to approach the cultural, higher mental functions as historical functions and therefore the need to study them by the historical method. In this paper the main contributions made by Vygotsky to second language acquisition are presented. And the core elements of his ideas are discussed.

An overview of Sociocultural Theory in SLA

Sociocultural theory (SCT), as introduced by Vygotsky and enhanced and expanded by SLA researchers especially over the past two decades is a multi-faceted construct with a wide range of implications for and applications in modern second language teaching. From a sociocultural perspective, the process of language acquisition in a formal classroom learning environment differs from the cognitive/acquisition processes discussed widely in "mainstream SLA" (Lantolf & Dunn, 1994 cited in Lantolf, J.P., & Thorne, S.L. 2006, p. 274 ). The sociocultural perspective specifically views classroom learning as "a developmental process mediated by semiotic resources appropriated from the classroom..." (Donato, 2000). V. P. Zinchenko and B. Mescheryakov (2001, cited in Donato 2000,p. 159) wrote four laws established by Vygotsky, which represent the core of cultural-historical theory: (1). the law of mediation---the law concerning the transition from natural forms of behavior to cultural ones (mediated by tools and signs); (2). The law of transition from cultural forms of behavior to individualized ones; (3). The law stating that functions pass from outside to inside: "This very process in which operations pass from outside to inside we call the law of ingrowth;" (4). The law of transition from awareness to appropriation: "General laws of development consisting of both awareness and appropriation are peculiar only to higher stages in the development of mental function. They appear late. Vygotsky' (1981) general genetic law of cultural developments states `any function in the individual's cultural development appears twice, or on two planes. First it appears on the social plane

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and then on the psychological plane. First it appears between people as an interpsychological category and then within the individual child as an intrapsychological category. Therefore we can say that he has got a dialectical perspective which goes through all his works. We are familiar with his contrastive terminology pairs: lower and higher mental functions, phylogeny and ontogeny, everyday and scientific concepts and so on. For Vygotsky the determinants of human mental development are not biological maturation in ontogenesis and biological adaptation in the course of the struggle for life in phylogenesis, nor the mastery by the human being of the ideas of the universal spirit embedded in the products of culture, nor the relation of social cooperation, but human tool-mediated labor activity. Thus, Vygotsky's very starting idea of the mediation of natural functions by psychological tools entail the need to approach the cultural, higher mental functions as historical functions and therefore the need to study them by the historical method. Scribner (1985, cited in Lantolf, 2000) described that "of Vygotsky's many contributions to psychology theory, he has perhaps been most widely acclaimed for introducing the historical approach to the development of higher mental processes. Vygotsky's use of history refers to a series of events as involving humanity as a whole. He weaves three strands of history ­ general history, child/individual history, and the history of mental functions into one explanatory account of the formation of specifically human aspects of human nature. He was not concerned with all aspects of the historical progress of human kind but with those cultural forms of society that have the most profound consequences for mental life and he thought these cultural forms lie primarily in the symboliccommunicative spheres of activity in which humans collectively produce new means for regulating their behavior. Higher psychological functions have a history- their own genesis and stages of development- in that this history is certainly embedded in the history of real people and is therefore realized on the two planes of phenomena: general history and individual/child history. Consequently, Vygotsky's methodology is referred to as dialectical and historical and his theoretical framework as cultural-historical or sociohistorical. Usually, the terms of cultural-historical and sociohistolical are interchangeably used to describe Vygotsky's framework. The former is adopted here. Ratner (1991, cited in Williams & Burden, 1997) attributes the tenets cultural- historical psychology as beginning with the premise that psychological phenomena arc humanly constructed as individuals participate in social interactions and employ tools (technology). This means that psychological phenomena depend on properties of social interaction and embody the specific character of historically bound social relations and all psychological functions have a social core and are integrated around this core.

The Genetic Domains in Vygotsky's Theory

Since we inherit cultural artifacts from our ancestors, who in turn inherit these artifacts from their ancestors, Vygotsky reasoned that the only adequate approach to the study of higher mental abilities was historical. As such, he proposed four genetic domains for the proper study of higher mental functions: phylogenetic domain, concerned with how human mentation came to be distinguished from mental processes in other life forms through the integration of mediational means over the course of evolution; sociocultural domain, concerned with how the different types of symbolic tools developed by human cultures throughout the course of their respective histories affected the kinds of mediation favored, and with it the kinds of thinking valued, by these cultures (for example, the impact of such artifacts as numeracy, literacy, and computers on thinking); ontogenetic domain, where focus is on how children appropriate and integrate mediational means, primarily language, into their thinking activities as they mature; microgenetic domain, where interest is in the reorganization and development of mediation over a relatively short span of time (for example, being trained to criteria at the outset of a lab experiment; learning a word, sound, or grammatical feature of a language). Although sociocultural theory recognizes four genetic domains, most of the research has been carried out in the ontogenetic domain where focus has been on exploring the ways in which abilities

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such as voluntary memory are formed in children through the integration of mediational means into the thinking process. Higher mental capacities include voluntary attention, intentional memory, planning, logical thought and problem solving, learning, and evaluation of the effectiveness of these processes. Whether physical or symbolic, artifacts are generally modified as they are passed on from one generation to the next. Each generation reworks its cultural inheritance to meet the needs of its communities and individuals. An overall understanding of the development and the themes of Vygotsky's theoretical framework may provide a systematic relationship between education and psychology and thus can yield an effective guidance to do SLA research.

Vygotsky's Theoretical Development and Themes

Minick (1987, cited in Daniels, 2008) identifies three major phases in the development of Vygotsky's thought in terms of the constructs that serve as his analytic units and explanatory principles and their chronological sequence: the first phase (1925-1930) centered on mediation and the higher mental functions, the second (1930-1932) was about interfunctional relations and the development of word meaning; and the third (19331934) made functional differentiation and analysis according to units. To reveal the origins of the higher forms of human consciousness, Vygotsky made a distinction between lower, natural mental functions, such as memory, attention, and will, and the higher or cultural functions, which are human and appear gradually in a course of radical transformation of the lower functions. The lower functions do not disappear in a mature psyche, but they are structured and organized according to specifically human and social goals and means of conduct (Kozulin, 1986, cited in Johnson, 2009). To find the link between higher and lower mental functions, Vygotsky constructed the theory about the mediation of mental processes through psychological tools such as "language, different forms of numeration and counting, mnemotechnic techniques, algebraic symbolism, works of art, writing, schemes, diagrams, maps, blueprints, all sorts of conventional signs, etc." (Vygotsky, 1997). Psychological tools are referred to as instruments for the construction of higher mental functions. Vygotsky began his analysis of the mental processes (from lower and higher mental functions) and maintained that the mental functions are mediated by psychological tools. Higher mental functions must be viewed as products of mediated activity. Psychological tools, which are referred to as the instruments for the construction of higher functions and created artificially by humanity and represent elements of culture, are internally oriented, transforming the natural human abilities and skills into higher mental functions. Leont'cv (1997, cited in Wertsch, 2007) remarks that the theory about the mediation of mental processes through psychological tools was the basic property of all of Vygotsky's creative work to which he owes all his success. Dwelling on the problem of genesis, Vygotsky (l986) also considered "the process of development of higher forms of behavior" which, in Diaz, Neal, & Amaya Williams' (1990, cited in Ellis, 2008) term, is self-regulation. He described three stages in child development: "At the natural or primitive stage, the child solves a problem by direct means. After solving very simple problems, he moves on to the stage of using signs without realizing the method of their action. Then comes the stage of using external signs and, finally, the stage of internal signs". In the natural or primitive stage the child sees the word as a property of the object; in the external stage, the child first becomes capable of some beginning mediation by using external signs (psychological tools) as an aid to their responses and then becomes more experienced in the use of auxiliary signs to help them attend, respond, or remember. Then comes the stage of inner speech, characterized by the internalization of the external relations among stimuli, signs, and behavior. Kozulin (1986, cited in Lantolf & Thorne, 2006) states that "Although Vygotsky's theory embraced all higher mental functions; Vygotsky himself was primarily interested in the development of language in its relation to thought. Language and speech occupy a special place in Vygotsky's

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psychological system because they play a double role. On the one hand, they are a psychological tool that helps to form other mental functions; on the other hand, they arc one of these functions, which means that they also undergo a cultural development.

Concept Formation

In a historical and developmental point of view, Vygotsky (1 986) developed four stages of concept formation, each of which consists of several phases. Four stages of concept formation 1. syncratic images and connections 2. complexive thinking 3. preconcept 4. concept proper In the first stage, the word has no fundamental meaning and figures are combined according to accidental features. With functionally, structurally, and genetically varied types, the second stage leads to the formation of connection, the establishment of relationships among different concrete impressions, the unification and generalization of separate objects, and the ordering and systematization of the whole of the child's experience. Using pseudoconcepts as the transition to the next stage, the critical point, before the true concept is formed, Vygotsky proceeded to the development of abstraction to examine when an abstraction is true or untrue. The last stage is the confirmation of the true concept. Vygotsky pointed out that these processes of development are not mechanical processes, where each new phase begins only with the completion of the previous one. In accordance with Vygotsky's four-stage concept formation experiments, four structures of generalization are revealed: "syncretism, complex, preconcept, and concept proper" (Vygotsky, 1986). With further research, Vygotsky distinguished two different but interrelated types of concepts: scientific concepts and everyday/spontaneous concepts, referring to scientific concepts as originating in the highly structured and specialized activity of classroom instruction and imposing on a child logically defined concepts, and spontaneous concepts as emerging from the child's own reflections on everyday experience (Kozulin, 1986, cited in Lantolf & Thorne, 2006, p. 358). Scientific concepts develop with the child's acquisition of a system of knowledge through instruction and spontaneous concepts develop through the child's practical activity and immediate social interaction. Leont' ev (1997) remarks that Vygotsky's great scientific achievement is that Vygotsky managed to experimentally "establish the psychological difference between the processes of the formation of everyday and scientific concepts". Vygotsky (1986) made several conclusions from the findings that he and his students had obtained from their experiments: the development of scientific concepts outstrips the development of spontaneous concepts; there is a higher level of conscious awareness of scientific concepts than everyday concepts; and there is a progressive development of scientific thinking which is followed by a rapid increase in levels of performance with everyday concepts, which indicates that the accumulation of knowledge leads directly to an increase in the level of scientific thinking and that this, in turn, influences the development of spontaneous thinking. This distinction demonstrates the leading role of instruction in the development of the school child. Vygotsky also described strengths and weaknesses of the two concepts: "the weakness of the everyday concept lies in its incapability/or abstraction, in the child's incapability to operate on it in a voluntary manner. Where volition is required, the everyday concept is generally used incorrectly. In contrast, the weakness of the scientific concept lies in its verbalism, in its insufficient saturation with the concrete. This is the danger in the development of the scientific concept. The strength of the scientific concept lies in the child's capacity to use it in a voluntary manner, in its 'readiness for action'. This picture begins to challenge by the 4th grade. The verbalism of the scientific concept begins to disappear as it becomes increasingly more concrete. This has its influence on the development of spontaneous concepts as well. Ultimately, the two developmental curves begin to merge" (1987).

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Vygotsky pointed out that "The development of the scientific social science concept, a phenomenon that occurs as part of the educational processes, constitutes a unique form of systematic cooperation between the teacher and (the) child. The maturation of the child's higher mental functions occurs in this cooperative process, that is, it occurs through the adult's assistance and participation (1987). In his analysis of the fact that the development of scientific concepts outstrips spontaneous concepts; Vygotsky concluded that the degree of mastery of the spontaneous concepts indicates the level of the child's actual development while the degree of mastery of scientific concepts indicates the child's zone of proximal development (ZPD).

Five of Vygotsky's Perspectives

In terms of the SLA discussions conducted in the literature review, five of Vygotsky's perspectives may be addressed to contribute to solving that reconciliation issue and thus to constructing an appropriate conceptualization of the SLA process. The five perspectives are: on language and FLA, on SLA, on instruction, on the role of grammar, and on the role of play. On Language and FLA Vygotsky saw language as a primary mediator for human beings. For him, language at its core is a communicative tool that evolves within a specific cultural-historical context. It does not innately spring from a child's natural tendency; it is fomented by the child's participating in social interaction. He held that learning is mediated first on the interpsychological plane between a person and other people and their cultural artifacts, and then appropriated by individuals on the intrapsychological plane. Vygotsky was interested in a revolutionary rather than evolutionary approach to development. For Vygotsky, "development was not a process of replacement but a process of transformation. Language acquisition evolves through a series of spiraling stages, each with a particular function in terms of shaping the problem-solving skills of human beings. Of the stages, children observe and develop social speech first, then use egocentric speech--children talking to themselves---to accompany problem-solving strategies, and then, evolving it into a tool for problem-solving, they develop inner speech- using attenuated and often silent language---to direct problem-solving strategies. Vygotsky (1978) developed his hypothesis that "children's egocentric speech should be regarded as the transitional form between external and internal speech. Functionally, egocentric speech is the basis for inner speech, while in its external form it is embedded in communicative speech". Egocentric speech is partially social and partially individual. The egocentric speech does not last long and it simply appears to be a release of tension and a medium for planning a solution to a problem. Theorizing that egocentric speech is related to inner speech, Vygotsky claimed that both egocentric speech and inner speech fulfill intellectual functions and have similar structures. There are various forms of inner speech such as verbal memory - as in the recitation of a poem. Once language is learnt and speech is mastered, inner speech takes over the egocentric speech. Vygotsky's theorizes that, developing after egocentric speech and allowing development of the verbal memory, inner speech, a means of self communication, is not shared with other individuals' and is the mind's computational regulator. These uses of egocentric and inner speech indicate that language is being employed to mediate the acquisition of knowledge and for the learner to internally conceptualize the outside environment. Vygotsky (1987 a) identified three stages of speech development: social speech or external speech, egocentric speech or private speech, and inner speech or internal speech, describing that "the initial function of speech is social, that of social interaction and social linkage. Speech affects those in the immediate environment and may be initiated by either the adult or the child. Egocentric speech develops through a movement of social forms of collaboration into the sphere of individual mental functions. The phenomenon of inner speech is fundamental to both autistic and logical forms of

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thinking and the most important point in the transition from external to inner speech is the egocentric speech". Vygotsky believed that cognitive development proceeds from being social to individual. Inner speech is the final phase in the development of higher forms of human conscious activity. Vygotsky disagrees with Piaget concerning egocentric speech, referred to as private speech by Vygotsky. Contrary to Piaget, Vygotsky argued that egocentric speech represents the ontogenetic phase in which children develop the ability to use social speech as a means for regulating their own mental functioning. Thus, while egocentric speech still appears social in form, it increasingly takes on a psychological orientation. Egocentric speech or private speech eventually transforms into inner speech and as it does, it sheds the formal linguistic form of its social progenitor. What remains is pure meaning. Vygotsky himself did not use the term "private speech" which was coined by Flavel (1996, cited in Lantolf, J.P., & Thorne, S.L. 2006). Private speech refers to that form of externalized speech deployed by adults to regulate their own mental activity. Subvocal private speech is often confused with inner speech; however inner speech is encoded in linguistic form, it becomes private speech. This three-stage speech development may be best understood in the application to FLA. In FLA., with proper and appropriate social contexts and situations, individuals develop their three-stage speech ability naturally. Without taking any pains to learn any grammar, which is composed of detailed rules and complex concepts, they can speak their Ll fluently and appropriately. Illiterate individuals can speak their L1 very fluently. On SLA Vygotsky held that SLA is mediated by the learner's L1 and that to learn an L2 at school and to develop one's L1 involve two entirely different processes. In learning a new language, one does not return to the immediate world of objects and does not repeat past linguistic developments, but uses instead the native language as a mediator between the world of objects and the new language (1986). The acquisition of a foreign language differs from the acquisition of the native one precisely because it uses the semantics of the native language as its foundation. The reciprocal dependence is less known and less appreciated. But Goethe clearly saw it when he wrote that he who knows no foreign language does not truly knows his own (1986). When addressing the similar relations between spontaneous and scientific concepts, both of which belong to the semantic aspect of speech development, Vygotsky (1986) demarcated the development of one's native language from the development of SLA: The external and internal conditions for the development of scientific concepts and the acquisition of a foreign language mostly coincide, differing in a similar way from the conditions for the development of spontaneous concepts and the acquisition of the native language. The demarcation line is drawn here between spontaneous development and systematic instruction. In a certain sense, one may call the development of one's native language a spontaneous process, and the acquisition of the foreign (language) a nonspontaneous process. Vygotsky described several contrastive characteristics to illustrate the differences between L1and L2 acquisition: the child does not begin his or her native language in school with the study of the alphabet, with reading and writing, with the conscious and intentional construction of phrases, with the definition of words, or with the study of grammar, while this is all characteristics of the child's first steps in learning a foreign language. A child uses L1 as the mediator to use the structures that scientific concepts have supplied for consciousness and deliberate use of the L2. The motivation of Vygotsky's discussion of this analogy is to help us clarify and support the notion that the dynamics of the development: of what seems to be identical structures at different ages and under different conditions may differ radically in functional-psychological terms. The mental nature of the development of these two processes suggests that "they represent the development of two

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aspects of a single process, the development of two aspects of the process of verbal thinking" (Vygotsky, 1987a). Besides describing the contrastive characteristics of the FLA and the SLA processes by showing that the strength of the child's foreign language is the weakness of his native language, Vygotsky (I 987a) also held that: the conscious and intentional learning of a second language is obviously dependent on a certain level of development in the native language; the process of learning a foreign language clears the path for the acquisition of higher forms of the native language; and learning a foreign language allows the child to understand his native language as a single instantiation of a linguistic system, as a result of which the child acquires a potential for generalizing the phenomena of his native language and for gaining conscious awareness of his speech operations and mastering them. On Instruction Vygotsky developed his perspective on instruction through addressing the relation between instruction and child development in two of his works: Mind in Society (1918) and Thought and Language/Thinking and Speech (1986/l987a, cited in Lantolf, 2006). Vygotsky (l986/1987a) constructed his instruction theory when discussing the development of scientific concepts in childhood, beginning with the statement that "To devise successful methods of instructing the schoolchild in systematic knowledge, it is necessary to understand the development of scientific concepts in the child's mind" (1986). In the point of view that instruction and development are neither two entirely independent processes nor a single process but two processes with complex interrelationships, Vygotsky and his students conducted four series of studies, which concerned three points: the maturity of special mental functions when instruction begins, the influence of instruction on their development, the temporal relationship between instruction and development, and the nature and significance of instruction as a formal discipline. In dealing with the fourth series of studies, relating that psychological research on the problem of instruction is usually limited to establishing the level of the child's mental development, that is, the level of the child's actual development about what he has and knows today, Vygotsky (l986/1987a) pointed out, "To determine the state of the child's development on this basis alone, however, is inadequate" and proposed, "If he is to fully evaluate the state of the child's development, the psychologist must consider not only the actual level of development but the zone of proximal development" (1987a). Instruction can be seen to actually lead development change. Instruction and development denote coincide and they are different processes with very complex interrelationships. Vygotsky (1986, 1987) concluded that instruction is useful when it moves ahead of development. When it does, it implies or wakens a whole series of functions that are in a stage of maturation lying in the zone of proximal development. On Grammar In formulating his theory of the relation between instruction and development, Vygotsky (1986) led his students to conduct four series of investigations, for the purpose of uncovering complex interrelations in certain definite areas of school instruction: reading and writing, grammar, arithmetic, natural science, and social science. Therein Vygotsky provided his perspective on the role of grammar and writing in children's development of language. For the subjects of writing and grammar, their studies, on the one hand, showed that school children have little motivation to learn writing when the teacher begins to teach it and they feel no need for it, only having a vague idea of its usefulness, and that grammar is seen as a subject that seems to be of little practical use and gives no new skills, and there is voiced opinion to dispense with school instruction in grammar. On the other hand, their investigations found that at the beginning of instruction, the psychic functions requisite for learning these basic subjects can not be considered mature, even in the children who prove successful in their schoolwork. Writing comes to schoolchildren so hard that at certain periods there is a lag of as much as six or eight years between

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their linguistic age in speaking and in writing; grammatical forms that are beyond the child's familiar structures turn out to be too hard for him. Vygotsky (1986) stated that "our analysis clearly showed the study of grammar to be of paramount importance for the mental development of the child" and the conclusion the investigation team made was: "(a) the essential difference between written and oral speech reflects the difference between two types of activity, one of which is spontaneous, involuntary, and nonconscious, while the other is abstract, voluntary, and conscious; (b) the psychological functions on which written speech is based have not even begun to develop in the proper sense when instruction in writing starts. It must build on barely emerging, immature processes ..." .Grammar and writing help the child to rise to a higher level of speech development. On the Role of Play Vygotsky (1978, 1998) explicated aspects about the role of play from the point of view of the influence they have on the process of mental development, defining, "Play is a unique relation to reality that is characterized by creating an imaginary situation or transforming the properties of some objects to others" (1998, p. 267). Vygotsky (1978) broke up the concept of play into different stages: "play for a child under three is a serious game, just as it is for an adolescent, although, of course, in a different sense of the word; serious play for a very young child means that she plays without separating the imaginary situation from the real one. For the school child, play becomes a more limited form of activity, predominantly of the athletic type, which fills a specific role in the school child's development but lacks the significance of play for the preschooler. At school age, play does not die away but permeates the attitude toward reality. It has its own inner continuation in school instruction and work (compulsory activity based on rules). It is the essence of play that a new relation is created between the field of meaning and the visual field---that is, between situations in thought and real situations". He (1998) further developed on this line and stated, "From the genetic point of view, imagination during the transitional age is the successor to child's play. In the correct expression of one of the psychologists, no matter how interesting it is, the child distinguishes very well between the world he has created in play and the real world, and willingly seeks support for the imagined objects and relations in tangible, real objects of real life. He replaces play with imagination. Nowadays in educational discourse imagination is talked about a lot, but it seems that it emerges out of a void without taking reality into consideration and there is no limit for it. Vygotsky (1987a) defined, "imagination is a necessary integral aspect of realistic thinking ...." The essential feature of imagination is that consciousness departs from reality. Imagination is a comparatively autonomous activity of consciousness in which there is a departure from any immediate cognition of reality. Vygotsky also dialectically related another two aspects about the role of play: pleasure principle and rule-based tendency. For the former, Vygotsky (1978) stated, "To define play as an activity that gives pleasure to the child is inaccurate for two reasons. First many activities give the child much keener experiences of pleasure than play .... And second, there are games in which the activity itself is not pleasurable. For the latter, Vygotsky (1978) regarded that play involving an imaginary situation is, in fact, rule-based play. He (1978) argued that "One will go even further and propose that there is no such thing as play without rules. The imaginary situation of any form of play already contains rules of behavior, although it may not be a game with formulated rules laid down in advance. The child imagines himself to be the mother and the doll to be the child, so he must obey the rules of maternal behavior" (p.94). At every step the child is faced with a conflict between the rules of the game and what he would do if he could suddenly act spontaneously. In the game he acts counter to the way he wants to act. A child's greatest self-control occurs in play.

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Application of Vygotsky's Cultural-Historical Theory in Education and SLA Research

The most popularly applied part of Vygotsky's theory to education is his concept of the ZPD. The second popularly part of Vygotsky's theory is the role of play. Blanck (1990, cited in Daniel, 2008) remarks that "among Vygotsky's (1978) fundamental contributions, his ideas regarding play are of vital importance in the preschool educational processes. In fact, he considered play to be the principal activity for the interiorization and appropriation of reality during the first years. A third application is the social aspects of language. Since language holds a central role and is essential to the development of thinking, the school needs to provide many opportunities that allow children to reach the third stage of speech, which is inner speech, since it is this stage that is responsible for all higher levels of functioning. Lantolf and Apple (1994) present three sets of studies each consisting of three studies conducted on Vygotsky's theory: the first set addresses ZPD, the second set focuses on the function of inner and private speech in L2 learning and performance, and the third set is framed within activity theory. The study in the second set shows that on the whole, first language ontogeny is an extremely complex procedure of forming inner speech structures and processes, including perception and imprinting in memory of speech material produced by speakers in the child's environment, selfdevelopment' of numerous word forms, cognition of the external and internal world by means of language, and many other phenomena. This procedure moves from initially diffuse and relatively primitive structures toward specialization, with their taking on of increased complexity in both form and meaning. As for second language acquisition, research findings show that interaction of new speech material and the earlier developed inner speech structures turns out to be very strong. The second language is incorporated into the classification system already available in the first language, relies on the previously developed semantic system, and actively deploys first language phonology. This all means that the main driving force is not so much inner self development as it is use of first language development. To put it figuratively, second language is looking into the windows cut out by the first language. From the perspective of activity theory, learners' goals and histories play a key role in the type of strategies they deploy to acquire the L2. Kecskcs & Papp (2000, cited in Lantolf, 2006) employ Vygotsky's perspective on SLA to build up their argument that people with more than one language have different knowledge of their first language than do monolingual people, and claim that this difference can mainly be due to the effect of subsequent language on the development and use of the first language skills.

SCT and the Language Classroom

The second language classroom is more than simply the physical (or virtual) location where comprehensible linguistic input is delivered to students for them to process and assimilate by means of their own individual cognitive mechanisms. Instead, the second language classroom is a dynamic environment that provides a unique set of semiotic "resources" for students to interact with. Such resources include aspects of the tangible environment including various media (textbooks, authentic materials, chalkboards, televisions, and computers), socially complex interlocutors (teacher, peers) as well as intangible resources such as learning tasks and activities and classroom discourse in all its shapes and forms. It is through interaction with these resources that classroom language learners acquire most of their second language. As the student leaves the classroom and returns to the "real world," there are, of course, other socially situated learning environments which can further mediate even more language learning. Most extra-curricular forms of learning, however, are out of the hands of the instructor and are dependent on the psychological and motivational make-up of the learner. Classroom teaching, however, can influence learner awareness of external learning opportunities and can encourage and give the learner the skills necessary to seek out and take advantage of such opportunities.

Contributions of Vygotsky's Theory to Second Language Acquisition Internalization

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A. N. Leontiev (1997) commented that: A sign is any conventional symbol which has a certain meaning. The word is the universal sign. A higher mental function develops on the basis of an elementary one which becomes mediated by signs in the process of internalization. Internalization is the fundamental law of development for the higher mental functions in ontoand phylogenesis. Vygotsky's internalization refers not to a mere mental image or mental representation of the external relations, but actually to a new level of behavioral organization that was once possible only with the help of external signs and mediators. External signs, after steering a person's mental process and helping create the new level of behavioral organization, cease to exist. The freedom from the immediate, concrete stimulus field is now the child's psychological function, a property of the child's behavioral repertoire (Diaz, Neal, & Amaya-Williams, 1990, cited in Lantolf, 2006). For Vygotsky, consciousness is only formed in the process of internalization. In the investigation of the interfunctional relationships, Vygotsky turned to the concept of the psychological system, by which he meant the system of interfunctional connections, the interfunctional structure responsible for a specific mental process (perception, memory, thinking, etc.). For Vygotsky, "the development of thinking is of central importance to the whole structure of consciousness, central to the entire system of mental functions" (Vygotsky, 1987). External social speech is internalized to become a type of verbal thought, or inner speech (Vygotsky, 1986). Internalization of social speech "as a concrete phenomenon is marked by the abbreviation of interactive social speech into audible speech to oneself, or private speech and ultimately silent speech for oneself, or inner speech" (Lantolf, 2003 cited in Lantolf, J.P., & Thorne, S.L. 2006, p.201). Imitation (not simply mimicking, copying, or emulating others) is a uniquely human form of cultural transmission and is crucial for internalization of social activity onto the inner psychological plane (Tomasello, 1999 cited in Haught. J.& MacCafferty, 2008, p. 144). Unlike other creatures, humans can understand the purpose of an original utterance and can reproduce that purpose through imitation of any given utterance thereby internalizing both the purpose and the utterance which will allow the learner to adapt that utterance for similar purposeful needs in the future (Lantolf, 2006). Mental rehearsal is a fundamental aspect of inner speech in second language learners (de Guerrero, 1999). L2 learners, like L1 learners, experience three distinct stages of speech internalization ­ external speech (vocalized during interaction with an interlocutor), private speech (vocalized "thinking aloud" to oneself), and inner speech (abbreviated non-vocalized "verbal thought" within a learner). While inner speech is no longer audible, private speech can be monitored and analyzed. Language acquisition is not likely to occur without private speech (Lantolf, 2003).

Shortcomings of SCT

A central criticism often leveled against Vygotsky's work is the ontogenetic domain; his own research program focused too heavily on the cultural line of development; it failed to give sufficient attention to the role of natural forces in development. Donato (2000) relates the details of a long roundtable discussion about SCT, its concepts, and implications which culminated in a final skeptical question by one of the discussants about the ultimate practicality of SCT: "Yes, but can you have an instructional conversation in French I?" (p.27). Although teachers may be attracted by this theory, many will find it difficult to translate the level of abstraction and complexity in the literature into practical application on a day-today basis. How then can SCT be applied in the everyday lives of teachers? What practical steps can teachers take to bring SCT into implementation in their language classrooms? It is precisely the problem of placing historical materialism together with dialectical materialism that creates a misunderstanding, with various categories often being mixed. For example, categories within dialectical materialism, such as quantity-quality, the triad, the universal connection

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Mohammad Khatib

(cf. Vygotsky, 1997, p. 330), are often mixed with categories in historical materialism, such as value, class, commodity, capital, interest, production forces, basis, and superstructure ( Vygotsky, 1997, p. 330). It is at this point that the role of metaphor, methodology, and the application of these principles to history become important in avoiding the pitfalls of a simplistic reductionism. The aspect of subjectivity and sense are often misunderstood within the tradition of Wundtian tradition of introspectionism. Fernando González-Rey describes Vygotskian subjectivity this way: It is an attempt to understand ontology not in its essential or causalistic version of being, but rather as a different domain of objectivity of sense. It is the reason why the topic of subjectivity can only really be understood from the cultural-historical perspective. Sense is produced socially within the permanent tension between the present moment of a subject's life, which takes place in his/her activity, and the configuration of his/her history in terms of sense. There is a constant dialectic in the development of objectivity. It is a way to emphasize that human production is a production of the sense, and in the end, this is a reason that we can never be completely rational. Sense contains emotions, which are involved in our personal histories beyond our conscious states. Subjectivity allows us to overcome the understanding of the human psyche as a simple taxonomy of content.

Conclusion

In the investigation of the interfunctional relationships, Vygotsky turned to the concept of the psychological system, by which he meant the system of interfunctional connections, the interfunctional structure responsible for a specific mental process (perception. memory, thinking, etc.). For Vygotsky, "the development of thinking is of central importance to the whole structure of consciousness, central to the entire system of mental functions. Vygotsky made a distinction between lower, natural mental functions, such as memory, attention, and will, and the higher or cultural functions, which are human and appear gradually in a course of radical transformation of the lower functions. Consequently, Vygotsky's methodology is referred to as dialectical and historical and his theoretical framework as cultural-historical or sociohistorical. Usually, the terms of cultural-historical and sociohistolical are interchangeably used to describe Vygotsky's framework.

References

[1] [2] [3] Bakhurst, D. (2007). Vygotsky's demons. In H. Daniels, M. Cole, & J. V. Wertsch (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to Vygotsky (pp. 50-76). Cambridge: CUP Daniels, H. (2008). Vygotsky and research. London: Routledge. Donato, R. (2000). Sociocultural contributions to understanding the foreign and second language classroom. In J. P. Lantolf (Ed.), Sociocultural theory and second language learning (pp.27-50). Oxford: OUP. Ellis, R. (2008). The study of second language acquisition (2nd ed.). Oxford: OUP. Johnson, K. E. (2009). Second language teacher education: A sociocultural perspective. London: Routledge Haught. J.& MacCafferty, (2008). Embodied language performance: drama and the ZPD in the second language classroom. In Lantolf, J. P. & Poehner, M.E. (Eds.). Sociocultural theory and the teaching of second languages, (pp. 139-162).London: EQUinox. Kramsch, C. (2000). Social discursive constructions of self in l2 learning. In J. P. Lantolf (Ed.), Sociocultural theory and second language learning (pp.133-154). Oxford: OUP. Lantolf, J. P. (Ed.). (2000). Sociocultural theory and second language learning. Oxford: OUP. Lantolf, J.P. (2000). Sociocultural contributions to understanding the foreign and second Language classroom. In J. P. Lantolf (Ed.), Sociocultural theory and second language Learning (pp.27-50). Oxford: OUP Lantolf, J. P. (2006). Sociocultural theory and L2. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 28, 67-109.

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Lantolf, J. P. and Appel, G. (eds.) (1994). Vygotskian approaches to second language research. Norwood: Ablex Publishing Corporation Lantolf, J.P., & Thorne, S.L. (2006). Sociocultural theory and the genesis of second language development. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mitchell, R. & Myles, R. (2004). Second language learning theories (2nd ed.). London: Edward Arnold. Nassaji, H., & Cumming, A. (2000). What's in a ZPD? A case study of a young ESL student and teacher interacting through dialogue journals. Language Teaching Research, 4 (2), 95-121. VanPatten, B. & Williams, J. (Eds.). (2007). Theories in second language acquisition: An introduction. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge: The MIT Press. Vygotsky, L. S. (1981). The genesis of higher mental functions. In J. V. Wertsch (Ed.), the concept of activity in Soviet psychology. Armonk: Sharpe. Vygotsky, L.S. (1997). The collected works of LS. Vygotsky, Vol. 4: The history of the development of higher mental functions (M.J. Hall, Trans; R.W. Reiber, Ed.) New York: Plenum Press. Vygotsky, L.S. (1998). Collected works vol. 5. New York: Plenum. Vygotsky, L.S. (1987). The collected works of L.S. Vygotsky, Vol. 1: Problems of general psychology (N. Minick, Trans., R.W. Rieber & A.S. Carton, Eds.). New York: Plenum Press. Wertsch, J. V. (2007). Mediation. In H. Daniels, M. Cole, & J. V. Wertsch (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to Vygotsky (pp. 178- 192). Cambridge: CUP. Williams, M. & Burden, R. (1997). Psychology for language teachers. Cambridge: CUP.

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