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Re: [xmca] Dynamic Assessment in L2

I'd like to give TWO examples of development, or rather ONE example of microgenetic "development" and one example of true, ontogenetic development. Then I want to square the circle by discussing how I think the two MIGHT be linked (because I really do think that the essence of "learning leads development" is to find a link between microgenesis and ontogenesis, and that the "next zone of development" or the "zone of proximal development" is intended to be that link).
My first example is not ontogenetic development but "development". Today we were doing role play. I began by telling my undergrads the very sad story of what happened with role play in primary English education here in Korea. 
We began, ten years ago, with a beautiful dream. We would teach a lesson about, for example, "Can I have some more rice?" and then, at the end of the lesson, where the high school and middle school books have a summative test (with DECONTEXTUALIZED grammar and vocab), we would have a role play (with RECONTEXTUALIZING roles and an open setting the kids could creatively develop).
The teachers were simply not equipped to deal with the mistakes that inevitably insued. They demanded, and we foolishly granted, a "model" role play to be put on a CD ROM and compared with the children's output. Inevitably, through a process of "washback" our beautiful dream of creative roleplay became nothing more than a new and even more difficult form of "Listen and Repeat". 
Now, as the years went by, the teachers became more confident. So they began to experiment with real role play. But they still had a problem. It's easy to create the characters ("Look! This is Heungbu!") and easy to put the kids inside them ("Now, YOU are Heungbu"), but how do we get imaginary characters to talk WITHOUT putting words in the kids' mouths?
Today I suggested that we could do it like this:
T: Look! This is Heungbu! Now, YOU are Heungbu. Heungbu feels hungry. Heungbu thinks, "I'm hungry". Heungbu says....?
Ss: I'm hungry! I want rice! I want a rice! I'm a want a rice! Can I have rice? etc.
Now you can see that this is really only scaffolding, that is, the progressive reduction of degrees of freedom until the child can volitionally "control" what Jim calls "the language feature" (it is interesting that he considers development to be reducible to the control of features such as the imparfait and the passe compose, something over which we do NOT actually require or even desire conscious control at all). It may be decontextualized, and recontextualized (to another story about Haellim and Dallim, or to a test,or even to a non-classroom situation) but it does not allow the child to completely reconstruct ALL of his previous utterances in the image of this one. Not at all!
My second example does do this. A child of two or three can have a very long complex ARGUMENT with his mother (say, over having another bowl of sweet rice porridge). It can last for hours. But while the argument may be complex, the actual utterances that compose it tend to be quite short. it is only when the child is older that the child can collapse these utterances into complex grammar ("You said that I could have another bowl if I finished my kimchi and so I did and besides you let Daddy have another bowl and he is even fatter than I am so now you have to keep your word and let me..." etc.) 
Now the important thing here for ME is that this complex grammar has the power to RESTRUCTURE all of the previous complex DISCOURSE that the child of two or three could have. It can do a lot more, of course. But it can certainly do no less. And when the child reaches the age of eighteen or twenty, the child can carry out a similar reconstrual, and put these same ideas into complex WORDS, e.g. "Consumption of high-calorie desserts is contingent upon the complete absorption of high-nutrient staples".
Here, the grammar is really simple but the words have absorbed the complexity. And here again, we may say that the complex words have the power to RESTRUCTURE all of the previous complex grammar that the school child used. Here, we may say, the child's education is complete, and the child is ready for a career in advertising (useful work, such as teaching, will require some remediation, but that is, alas, the prerogative of a small proportion of the population).
Now this is development with a capital D. And of course foreign language learning has precisely this kind of developmental potential, since it allows us to say EVERYTHING we said in our first language and then some, and it allows us VOLITIONAL choice over the very medium in which we speak and think. But it really does NOT follow that the various subskills of learning a foreign language are equally developmental. 
We know, for example, that vocabulary learning tends to be quite linear, and that vocabulary is easily forgotten. Grammatical learning (what Professor Lantolf calls "control of a feature") does tend to look more developmental; we find clear plateaus and huge revolutionary restructurings, some of which actually produce a DROP in accuracy, fluency, and even complexity.
(For example: today we were discussion Guk and Kellogg, an article on the ZPD that came out in Language Teaching Research (Vol 11, No. 3, 2007) which showed that "unassisted" S-S interaction actually had MORE complex sentences and LONGER exchanges than "assisted" T-S interaction. Various explanations were proposed: peer scaffolding, practice effect, etc, but when we looked at the transcripts it was clear that the "assistance" mostly produced ANALYSIS, and this analysis meant fragmentation, which was sometimes quite long lasting.)
Does this mean that all vocabulary learning is piecemeal and incremental "learning" and all grammar learning is "development", as Professor Lantolf seems to imply? Well, I think, actually there is SOME truth to this. And that brings me to my third example, which I think is not development but which is very closely linked to something that really is.
I think that in general we can see three stages in child second language learning: the fixed expressions that Tomasello (2003) found, the "constructional islands" which consist of a fixed expression plus a variable (e.g. "Let's + (Verb)" or "I'm a + N") and then truly creative abstract constructions. 
These three stages are not development but like the "role play" and "rule play" that occur in child play, they are the fruits of development. It seems to me in order to grasp the tree of development by the branch, we have to look much deeper, at mental structures. And it seems to me that college second language learners, for all their delightful qualities, are not a good place to look.
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On Wed, 12/1/10, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

From: mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Dynamic Assessment in L2
To: ablunden@mira.net, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 8:00 PM

Many thanks for responding to so many points, Jim and Matt. I hope others
will join in, but let me make one general point and then ask a specific
answer to one question (seems long enough!).

General point: I have no interest at all in messing with people's self
identifications around different configurations of ideas and practices.
But I am really interested in what makes the configurations different and
what difference that difference makes  (or does not). To give an example: I
commented on a set of papers flying under the SCT banner edited by Jim
Wertsch. What i noted as common to all of the papers was that they were all
synchronically oriented, even though in each case knowledge of the history
of the practices under examination was quite relevant to understanding them.
Its as if the cultural in sociocultutral did not take seriously culture as
an historical process.
In other contexts all of the authors had displayed interest in history, but
not when they came together under this banner. Come to think of it, I
believe Giyoo Hatano wrote a commentary about this very topic in the Forman
et al Contexts of Learning Book. Gotta go dig that out and send around.

Let me clarify why my attention was caught by the definition of education
as artificial. You summarize matters thus:
5. Our reference to Vygotsky's characterization of education as "the
artificial development of the child" is not intended as a negative stance on
education. We interpret V's use of "artificial" (assuming the translation
from the Russian is accurate) here as a way of distinguishing development
through participation in cultural activities and through the appropriation
of (cultural) concepts from natural processes of growth. Indeed, we believe
that it might be possible to construe V's use of Education in the passage we
cite as referring not only to formal education but to all forms of education
provided by a society whether in or out of places recognized as school.
I have no problem at all of thinking about education as an artificial system
of human activity of enormous historical importance. Amen.
But unless Vygotsky used the term for upbringing in the original, I
seriously doubt that he was putting formal education in schools and
education in the very broad sense that applies to the deliberate
organization of children's learning in small, face to face, pre/non-literate

I am really uncertain of what you mean by "through the appropriation of
(cultural) concepts from natural processes of growth."  In particular, what
does natural mean?  My first impulse is to interpret this as saying that
cultural concepts ("nauty child") could be acquired/appropriated
biologically. If so, lets discuss how that is possible. My second impulse is
to interpret you as meaning "acquired with no explicit instruction" (e.g. we
do not need to teach L1 -- its "only" triggered).

If any of this is worth thinking about, its because the learning/teaching
implications of the "formal/informal" distinctiton is believed by many to
make a real difference in subsequent intellectual development.

On Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 8:46 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Thanks for that Jim.
> Rather than divert the list from discussion of the important issues of L2
> and SCT/CHAT, can I just refer to
> http://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/t/r.htm#truth
> which reflects where I'm coming from. A Google search revealed "practice is
> the criterion of truth" even in my own writing, but in fact it is not at all
> that simple. The entry refers to Engels, Lenin, Ilyenkov and Spirkin. Marx
> never actually talks about a criterion of truth.
> Andy
> James P. Lantolf wrote:
>> 2. With regard to the 11th Thesis and the centrality of praxis in Vygotsky
>> theory, we are not suggesting that theory/philosophy is unimportant or
>> should be abandoned. Indeed, many of us in applied linguistics are rooted in
>> the humanities as much (or perhaps more) than in the social sciences. We
>> continue to read and rely on modern philosophers, especially philosophers of
>> language to inform our work. Lantolf and Thorne (2006) integrate
>> Wittgenstein's notion of "language game" as well as Voloshinov's notion of
>> utterance and sign in theorizing language. Most recently, the new monograph
>> by Searle "Making the Social World" has some very important things to say
>> about the role of language in social formation that we think resonates well
>> with Vygotsky's views on thinking and speaking. Having said this, we don't
>> agree with Andy's comment to the effect that practice is the truth criterion
>> of theory is not Marxism. Rather than launch into a lengthy explanation, we
>> will mention some interesting works written in the 1970s that address the
>> topic far better than we could here: Adolfo Sanchez Vazquez (1977). "The
>> Philosophy of Praxis." Richard Bernstein (1971). "Praxis and Action." Alan
>> Buss (1979). "Dialectic Psychology." We also find support for our position
>> in the more recent writing of Anna Stetsenko.
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