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Vygotsky’s psycho-semiotics

Theories, instrument and interpretive analyses- In collaboration with Frith Luton

Charlotte Hua Liu

Reviewing and elaborating L. S. Vygotsky’s view of language mediated development, this work presents an extension of the Russian thinker’s developmental psycho-semiotics to an educational psycho-semiotics. Interpreting original discussions of tool-mediation as developmental mechanism, this book addresses the question of what occurs in the interpersonal environment that enables the internalisation of tool and the development of thinking. Filling in a gap in Vygotsky’s theoretical framework, it discusses in detail inter-psychological processes as the social origins of changes in the intra-psychological domain.
Besides theoretical descriptions, this book also offers an original instrument for educational research or practitioners’ reflection of micro-genetic processes of interaction and change. This instrument is then applied in interpretive analyses of real-life classroom exchanges.


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CHAPTER 5 L2 EDUCATION FROM A VYGOTSKYAN PERSPECTIVE 5.1 An Alternative Position of Language Education To date, mainstream L2 educational theories have pervasively been inspired by applied linguistics and the computational metaphor of lan- guage acquisition. Reviewing L2 educational developments in the past decades, Allwright (1998) observes that second language acquisition (SLA) research has associated largely with linguistic studies. It is noted that, from the 1960s, the fi eld has been preoccupied with various key causal factors in teaching. Faith was harboured, in sequential order of the fi eld’s development, in the ‘best’ teaching method, in ‘comprehensi- ble input’, in natural and implicit psychological processes in the learn- ers’ brains, and in real-life rehearsal or mimicry communication in the classroom. Discontented with the isolation of SLA from educational issues in general, Allwright (1998, p. 122) argues that ‘second language acquisition researchers have effectively diverted their own and other people’s attention away from social issues, by focusing exclusively and unhelpfully on an asocial conception of the individual’. The genera- tion of language has been considered in separation from classrooms as unique social settings, from the individuals constituting the sociality, and from the cultures of interpersonal interaction that plait the very texture of classroom life. Rod Ellis (2003) critiques the computational model, where second language acquisition occurs in the individual mind. The mind is con- ceived as a ‘black box’, containing knowledge resulting from process- ing input and output. Interaction provides the raw materials for input and the opportunity for output. Learning is a...

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