Re: ZPD/Chaiklin and Vygotsky/Bakhtin

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Thu Jan 15 2004 - 05:56:48 PST

This reminds me of my recent visit to my hometown and my interactions
with my 4-year old German/English bilingual niece. Australian primary
schools are promoting LOTE (Languages other than English) and my niece,
who is very interested in other languages was able to display various
**copies** of Italian through **play** in terms of "head, shoulders,
knees and toes" routines. I have some very basic Italian, and was
unsuccessful in making meaning with Ashleigh at the most elementary
levels. I later (think) I learned that LOTE at pre-school level was
being taught using Total Physical Response techniques, which are quite
squarley within behaviourist learning traditions. As Ashleigh was
interested in languages, she asked me to teach her some Thai. I told
her a phrase that would mean "What's your name?" and another one that
would mean "Pleased to meet you". She was so willing to try these
phrases out with new people in the home environment, but wasn't able to
do any more than ask "What's your name?". And I modelled the exchange
with her repeatedly.

I did note that she exaggerated the tonal patterns on numbers that she
learned form me by rote - Thai has 5 tones that have semiotic value.
but obviously not in English or German.

Thank you Vera for your grounded observations. This is a fascinating

On Jan 15, 2004, at 7:51 AM, Vera Steiner wrote:

> The issue of imitation is an important one in language acquisition.
> The fact
> that young speakers construct utterances which are not imitations of
> what
> they hear--like "all gone, Daddy" has resulted, during the early
> phases of
> LA studies, in rejecting the behaviorist notion of reinforced
> imitation as
> the basis of language learning. Since then imitation has re-emerged as
> one
> of the mechanisms of learning; many data bases include examples of
> imitation as a source for analysis for young learners, who check their
> intonation against a remembered utterance, they experiment with
> taking an
> imitated longer utterance apart
> (longer than what they are producing without imitation) and they
> recombin
> the utterance in new ways. Imitation when combined with
> experimentation can
> be thought of as a source of zpd.In other words a scaffolded
> utterance when
> it is worked on independently by the young speaker provides the basis
> for
> his or her sustained language development
> These comments have been provoked in part by the imitation discussion
> and in
> part by a visit with my 2-year old grandson.
> Vera
> ---- Original Message -----
> From: "Peter Smagorinsky" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 8:44 AM
> Subject: Re: ZPD/Chaiklin and Vygotsky/Bakhtin
>> David, I'm not sure how to cite it, except as an email message. If
>> time
>> allows I'll develop it into something else, but haven't yet found the
> time....
>> I'm wondering if imitation has a slightly different meaning in Russian
> than
>> English--Mike, Eugene, others, can you help us with this one?
>> I remember resisting my reading of Vygotsky's ideas on imitation
>> initially
>> because of my own instantiations of imitation as rigid and mimetic,
>> which
>> in our constructivist mindset suggests simple reproduction of form
>> rather
>> than reconstruction. At the same time, I think of Benjamin Franklin's
>> autobiographical endorsement of imitation in his learning to write:
>> At about this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator. . . . I
>> bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. I
> thought
>> the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it....
>> This, he says, is how he learned to write well.
>> The problem comes when in school imitation (e.g., imitating models of
>> writing) is accompanied by nothing procedural which allows for
>> appropriation of something conceptual. Reproduction, rather than
>> reconstruction, becomes the goal.
>> Peter
>> At 09:06 AM 1/14/2004 -0600, you wrote:
>>> Peter,
>>> Pity the theoretical excerpt was not included in the article. I find
>>> the
>>> section on imitation very useful, and would like to cite it. Can you
>>> suggest to me how APA might want me to do this (or give me whatever
>>> elements might need to be included in the citation of this
>>> unpublished
>>> work)? Also, please share any further insight you might have on the
>>> seemingly contradictory proposal that "Imitation, in contrast to the
>>> mimetic habituation involved in training, is part of what Vygotsky
>>> [1987]
>>> calls 'instruction' in which one learns something 'fundamentally
>>> new' (p.
>>> 210). I'm intrigued by Van der Veer and Valsiner (1991) reading of
>>> Vygotsky that "'children are capable of intellectual, insightful
>>> imitation.' (pp. 344-345)."
>>> Thanks.
>>> David Kirshner
>>> Peter
>>> Smagorinsky
>>> <smago who-is-at coe.uga.ed To:
>>> u> cc: (bcc: David
>>> H
>>> Kirshner/dkirsh/LSU)
>>> Subject: Re:
> ZPD/Chaiklin
>>> and Vygotsky/Bakhtin
>>> 01/14/2004
>>> 05:22
>>> AM
>>> Please respond
>>> to
>>> xmca
>>> At 06:00 PM 1/14/2004 +0700, you wrote: A question based on the
>>> article
>>> that might be worthwhile pursuing once the discussion of Paul's
>>> paper has
>>> subsided is based on Mike's observation of the underplaying of the
>>> idea
> of
>>> imitation. What is the "special" meaning that LSV attaches to the
>>> word
>>> imitation?
>>> For the article I recently attached on learning to teach the
> five-paragraph
>>> theme, we had originally written the attached theoretical section,
>>> which
>>> the reviewers recommended that we eliminate as irrelevant to the
>>> study.
>>> I've set it aside for potential use later, but it relates to
>>> Vygotsky's
>>> beliefs about imitation in relation to his discussion of the zpd and
>>> may
>>> contribute to a consideration of Phil's question. Peter(See attached
> file:
>>> The Zone of Proximal Development.doc)(See attached file: The Zone of
>>> Proximal Development.doc)

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Feb 01 2004 - 01:00:10 PST