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Re: [xmca] A bit more on Dynamic Assessment and second language development

Argh! Hit return by accident. The incomplete thought at the bottom concerned
differences in the activity
settings where L2 is learned. Let it pass to the experts!!

On Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 5:11 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks Matthew and Jim, and thanks for earlier post by David re the
> lucky/yukky example.
> I fear that our mixing of messages and inexact subject line practices have
> played a trick on me
> (at least) here.
> In my Sasha example i was focused on the issue of what seemed to me like an
> example of behavior
> expected of a 5-7 year old to a 22-24 month old. The question is part of a
> long inquiry about LSV's ideas
> on development and was not about L1-L2.  It was out of school and M&J are
> focused on in school. I have neither lost the distinction betwen 22 months
> and 22 years, nor L1-L2. I apologize for the inappropriate question and its
> misleadingnss in the current context.
> David's reply to the message about Sasha helped me understand the
> complexities of my own question and by extension the problem of what aspect
> of a behavior is indicative of what kinds of change in what domains where
> many "kinds" and "domains" can be simultaneously operating. I think what
> David unpacks is the kind of complexity that is the rule, not the exception,
> but have to keep on thinking.
> I have a few observations on adults learning a second language in school,
> having been through the experience as what I thought was adulthood at the
> time. But I can only read with interest what all those who really engage the
> topic are reported to say.
> I am astounded to hear that anyone thinks that learning a second language
> as an adult in a 30:1 deliberately organized setting of the sort considered
> here and learning (say) as on, say, a date at a
> jazz bar are equivalent processes. I
> (or a 10:1 setting, or) is the same as learning it
> On Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 5:53 PM, MATTHEW E POEHNER <mep158@psu.edu> wrote:
>> Hello, All
>> One final set of thoughts on the recent Dynamic Assessment paper in MCA,
>> as
>> work and discussions are moving on...
>> What we think is problematic about the discussion on language learning is
>> that
>> we are talking about adults learning language in a classroom and Mike and
>> David
>> are talking about children learning/using language in everyday settings.
>> These
>> are, on our view, very different cognitive processes. Indeed, this is why
>> we
>> frame our arguments in the paper as we do, because many in applied
>> linguistics,
>> such as Long, assume that processes of acquiring a second language unfold
>> in
>> the same manner regardless of context (schooled or unschooled). Our point
>> is
>> that this does not need to be the case, and that instructional settings
>> need
>> not be organized to recreate the everyday world but can instead be
>> organized to
>> allow for a particular kind of development, as Vygotsky suggests. This is
>> the
>> reason we reference Vygotsky’s characterization of schooling as artificial
>> development. Having said this, we will try to respond to some of the
>> points you
>> both make regarding our earlier posting on consciousness and control.
>> 1.We have no problem at all allowing for little Sasha to exercise control
>> over
>> his avoidance of Yukky for fear of being the brunt of adult laughter.
>> Again
>> perhaps we are at fault for not fully specifying our position on
>> consciousness,
>> control and adult language learning in tutored settings. We will try to
>> clarify
>> this.
>> 2.The example of knot-tying that David cites from chapter 6 or TS doesn't
>> tell
>> the full story of what Vygotsky is getting at re. consciousness and it is
>> the
>> full story that we are making use of with regard to instructed L2 learning
>> in
>> adults. V. contrasts what David says with "conscious awareness". According
>> to
>> V. the reason one cannot say how one precisely ties a knot is because "my
>> action, which is conscious, turns out to be lacking in conscious awareness
>> because my attention is directed toward the act of tying, not on how I
>> carry
>> out that act Š the actions that I carry out in tying the knot -what I am
>> doing
>> - is not the object of my consciousness. However, it can become the object
>> of
>> consciousness when there is conscious awareness. Conscious awareness is an
>> act
>> of consciousness whose object is the activity of consciousness itself." In
>> the
>> next paragraph he continues: "To perceive something in a different way
>> means to
>> acquire new potentials for acting with respect to it. At the chess board,
>> to
>> see differently is to play differently." (p. 190, The collected works,
>> volume
>> 1). Finally, V. writes: "Thus, the foundation of conscious awareness is
>> the
>> generalization or abstraction of the mental processes, which leads to
>> their
>> mastery. Instruction has decisive role in this process. Scientific
>> concepts
>> have a unique relationship to the object. This relationship is mediated
>> through
>> other concepts that themselves have an internal hierarchical system of
>> interrelationships. It is apparently in this domain of the scientific
>> concept
>> that conscious awareness of concepts or the generalization and mastery of
>> concepts emerges for the first time. And once a new structure of
>> generalization
>> has arisen in one sphere of thought, it can - like any structure - be
>> transferred without training to all remaining domains of concepts and
>> thought.
>> Thus, conscious awareness enters through the gate opened up by the
>> scientific
>> concept Š Conscious awareness and the presence of a system are synonyms
>> when
>> we are speaking of concepts, just as spontaneity, lack of conscious
>> awareness,
>> and the absence of a system are three different words for designating the
>> nature of the child's concept" (p. 191-192).
>> Apologies for the extended quote, but it does reflect what we are
>> attempting to
>> do in deliberate explicit instruction of an L2. We think adults function
>> with
>> far greater control, again, not necessarily in the same way that a native
>> speaker does, of the new language, if they achieve conscious awareness of
>> the
>> full system. As in the example of tense/aspect used in our previous
>> posting,
>> they can "break the rules of the game" to achieve a specific communicative
>> intention. They do not have to be infantilized, as many teaching
>> methodologies
>> have done over the years, to become sophisticated users of a language.
>> Mastery
>> of language by children as spontaneous knowledge is very different from
>> the
>> kind of mastery of language by adults that we are trying to help bring
>> about.
>> In fact, one very important form of development, in our view, is that
>> through
>> learning an L2 in a tutored setting, individuals may come to better
>> understand
>> (i.e., develop conscious awareness of) their L1, as occurs when learners
>> draw
>> connections between formal grammatical features in the two languages or
>> how
>> metaphors function in both languages.
>> While learning a foreign language can be different from learning
>> scientific
>> concepts, as for instance happens in immersion situations in the everyday
>> world
>> or in so-called communicative classrooms as prescribed by Krashen, we
>> don't
>> agree that it must be different. Why must we assume that language cannot
>> be
>> scientifically presented to adult learners in the same way as other
>> schools
>> subjects such as math, physics and biology? Just because, as David says,
>> every
>> foreign language is someone else’s native language, there is absolutely no
>> reason to think that adult learners cannot understand even the most
>> complex
>> feature of any language, if it is presented in a coherent and systematic
>> way
>> and then linked to practical communicative activities. Linguists do indeed
>> work
>> to develop systematic (scientific) knowledge of language, and in our view
>> this
>> expertise is very much relevant to establishing curricula for L2 learners.
>> Many
>> of the studies we and our colleagues have undertaken over the last few
>> years
>> draw specifically on research in cognitive linguistics to establish the
>> scientific concepts that are the object of instruction.
>> 3.We couldn't disagree more with David's attempt to rework our analysis.
>> First
>> of all, we have no idea how "elle a dit" resembles the English
>> "imperfect." If
>> anything it resembles the English "present perfect", which of course can
>> be its
>> function in French. As for the supposed "mistranslation" in line 5, we
>> opted to
>> render "a ete" as a present perfect to give the reader a sense of the
>> difference between was, and was, given that English doesn't have a
>> morphological way of distinguishing imperfect from preterit. It is not a
>> mistranslation.
>> The reason the mediator chose to adopt the so-called "echo chamber" role
>> is not
>> because he didn't know what he was doing, but because he knew precisely
>> what he
>> was doing. To make the choice for Donna would not have been
>> instructionally
>> useful. By echoing he allowed her the opportunity to continue to work
>> through
>> the problem and to bring out her own agency. Of course, there are often
>> several
>> options that a mediator can deploy when attempting to help students.
>> Indeed,
>> during the enrichment period the mediator provided the kind of instruction
>> suggested by David. The goal here was to see if the student had benefited
>> from
>> the instruction. Allowing the learner to struggle somewhat as she worked
>> through the problem was crucial to diagnosing her understanding of the
>> concept
>> of verbal aspect. In fact, in a more recent analysis of the interaction,
>> we
>> noted that Donnna’s gestures and eye gaze played a central role in her
>> struggled to resolve the problem. One of the things this analysis shows is
>> that
>> she used her hands to imitate the visual model the instructor provided
>> students
>> for helping them understand verbal aspect. Donna "gets it right" precisely
>> because she is thinking.
>> If David’s argument that aspect is a complex and not a concept is meant to
>> relate to what a native speaker might exhibit if asked to overtly explain
>> how
>> aspect functions in her or his language, then we would agree with him. If
>> however, his comment is intended as a claim about what linguists know
>> about
>> aspect and tense, he is simply wrong. Have a look at any linguistic book
>> that
>> deals with semantics, e.g., Frawley (1992) Linguistic Semantics.  Evans
>> (2005).
>> The Structure of Time. Comrie’s respective books on Tense and Aspect.
>> Finally, to assert that tense and aspect have nothing to do with time and
>> at
>> the same time argue that they emerge from narrative use is contradictory.
>> Narratives have everything to do with temporally organized events. Indeed,
>> some
>> in psychology use event schema or temporal schema to refer to the
>> knowledge
>> that people internalize about a narratively organized world (e.g.,
>> Brunner,
>> Kintsch, Mandler)
>> 4. One of course can reject anything, as David has done with regard to
>> Paradis's model. However, Paradis is not alone in proposing such a model
>> of the
>> separation of declarative and procedural knowledge. Michael Ullman,
>> neuroscientist at Georgetown U. has come to a similar conclusion. We agree
>> that
>> first language knowledge can be made explicit but it takes special
>> circumstances [education] for this to happen. According to Paradis and
>> Ullman,
>> lexical knowledge in any language is declarative because we can without
>> too
>> much reflection bring it to explicit conscious attention. However, not
>> matter
>> how hard we may try, we are not going to be able to bring to conscious
>> attention the implicit knowledge we have for use of aspect, mood,
>> anaphora,
>> particle verbs, etc. With regard to second language learning, what we said
>> in
>> line with Paradis and Ullman is that declarative knowledge cannot become
>> implicit/procedural knowledge, although of course second language learners
>> can
>> become very quick at relying on declarative knowledge during performance,
>> and
>> thus may behaviorally resemble native speakers. Indeed, Ullman and Paradis
>> have
>> made extensive use of fMRI scans to empirically support the differences
>> between
>> native speakers of a language and second language learners, even when
>> their
>> observable performance appears to be the same (i.e., different parts of
>> the
>> brain are active, notably, in the case of second language learners, those
>> areas
>> associated with declarative knowledge). Furthermore, we didn't say that
>> one can
>> never learn an L2 implicitly. It is possible, but rare. However, it is far
>> more
>> difficult and more likely to result in gaps and incorrect knowledge. So
>> reject
>> if you must, but the evidence is otherwise.
>> Jim and Matt
>> Matthew E. Poehner
>> Assistant Professor, World Languages Education and Applied Linguistics
>> Department of Curriculum and Instruction
>> Affiliate, Center for Language Acquisition
>> 159 Chambers Building
>> The Pennsylvania State University
>> University Park, PA 16802
>> office phone: 814-865-2161
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