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[Xmca-l] Re: "Mediation" as Error Correction

I don't think error correction or even "making a student say 'This is a
book' is always "direct" or "immediate", quite the contrary. Most of the DA
sources I am referring to (yes, I am thinking of Lantolf and Poehner)
distinguish between the highly indirect and the direct. We can lay out a
kind of cline.

a) What did you say?
b) Did you say a book?
c) A book?
d) A book.
e) You mean a book.
f) No, you have to say "a book".

There are various ways of discussing this cline in the literature, e.g.
"implicit" to "explicit" correction (Long and Doughty), or
"interventionist" vs. "non-interventionist" (Lantolf and Poehner), or
"recasts" vs. "prompts" (Ellis and others), "other repair" vs. "self
repair" (the Conversation Analysts). I don't agree that direct intervention
is bad, and indirect intervention good. Since the work of Lyster and Ranta,
we have become acutely conscious that most teacher intervention is highly
indirect and thus highly ineffective.

The real thing that needs to be "mediated" is this:

g) Every singular noun must have a determiner in English.

Now, I think grasping this (is it implicit? Is it explicit?) is mediation
only in the following sense: in order to be able to use it, you need to
understand concepts like "noun", "singular", and "determiner". These are
all academic concepts and not everyday concepts and they cannot be directly
taught (c.f. Chapter Six of Thinking and Speech). I think that all error
correction, direct and indirect, is a way of indirectly teaching it.

Perhaps the two "forces of nature" that are being played against each other
are the eidetic memory, which is concrete and based on everyday experience,
and forgetting, which produces an involuntary form of abstraction. Neither
force can overcome the other, but a learner can use a voluntary form of
abstraction to overcome both.

I think the problem with the way "mediation" is interpreted as the
learner's "internalization" of the correction is simply this: it falls prey
to what Chaiklin calls the "assistance" assumption: the idea that the site
of development, and not simply the source, is the environment nad not the
learner. The environment (the correct form) is indeed the source of
development (and I do think grasping the English article system does
represent a form of real development, and certainly academic concepts do).
But the learner and only the learner is the site.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

On Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 8:04 PM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>

> Perhaps you should respond in kind, David:
> 1.  A failure to understand that speech and systems of notation mediate,
> i.e. guide and structure, activity which is the phenomenon that benefits
> from contact with reality.
> 2.  Failure to understand that direct correction of these systems can
> inculcate an erroneous sense that systems of notation and speech are the
> "objective material" to be worked upon, rather than the efficacy of their
> use in realising object systems from which natural feedback can be
> obtained.
> 3. Failure to grasp the opportunity to frame these minor situations in the
> context of encouraging the student's own self-regulation and confidence in
> thinking.
> Any good?
> Best,
> Huw
> On 10 February 2016 at 21:38, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
> > I am occasionally, out of deference to a few papers I once published in
> > TESOL, sent articles to review on the use of Vygotskyan concepts in
> > language learning. Time was that these articles were mostly about
> > scaffolding and the ZPD; of late they have been mostly concerned with
> > "internalization" and "mediation".
> >
> > The problem is that most of these articles have taken these concepts
> > entirely out of child development and placed them in an alien
> > context--classroom error correction, which is now referred to as "Dynamic
> > Assessment".
> >
> > I am not sure what to do about this. It seems to me that one way to start
> > to address the issue is to go back to the original Hegelian idea of
> > "mediation" as using one force of nature against another: the force of
> air
> > pressure against gravity in flying, or the friction of snow vs. the
> > momentum of the fall line in skiing.
> >
> > When a teacher corrects an error in a classroom, e.g. when a teacher
> makes
> > the student say "This is a book" instead of "This is book", what are the
> > forces of nature that are being used against each other? Is this really
> an
> > instance of mediation at all?
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Macquarie University
> >