Language Development in Social Interaction: A Longitudinal Study of a Japanese FLES Program from a Vygotskyan Approach

Authors

  • Etsuko Takahashi Ph.D.

    1. Carnegie Mellon University
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      Etsuko Takahashi, (Ph.D. student) is Lecturer in Japanese at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.


Abstract

ABSTRACT  This study reports the results of a three year-long qualitative observation study of a Japanese FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary School) program. The observation was analyzed from the sociocultural point of view led by Vygotsky. A Vygotskyan approach treats learning through social guidance and motivation as central to an account of language development. The analysis of the three protocols illustrates the following four findings important in the sociocultural theoretical framework; (1) the assistance given in the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) allowed the learners to outperform their current linguistic skills; (2) as the learners' language use developed, they became more capable of providing mutual assistance during classroom activities; (3) the learners were enabled to participate in classroom activities in a more dynamic, student-centered manner, by collaboration in scaffolding; and (4) the way the learners provided mutual assistance reflected the way the teacher offered them assistance, which indicates that the learners' learning and development were largely influenced by the social interaction established in the given classroom environment.

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