Re: Way off thread - SLA

From: Steven Thorne (
Date: Wed Apr 06 2005 - 22:27:15 PDT

hi Phil and all -- there is indeed a strong and growing strand of
applied and cognitive linguistics/SLA work rooted in vygotskian and
chat frameworks. a colleague (jim lantolf) and i are finishing up a
book length manuscript for OUP on this very theme. as you note, our
group here in the US has been active, but as you correctly mention,
most of our stuff has been praxiological, but not explicitly
pedagogical (though of course we strive to "ascend to the
concrete"!). in our forthcoming volume, we're trying to address this
through some chapters that look specifically at concept development
and the role of mediation, artifacts, and forms of participation that
might foster the conditions of possibility (to rob a line from
foucault) for learning, and potentially, development (i won't parse
these terms here other than to revisit vygotsky's notion that
learning precedes development, and development, especially in
late-modern post-vygotskian theorizing, involves resolutions to
contradictions > reorganization of mental processes > the dialectical
becoming of a new kind of person (possibly in domain specific

lastly, i was a member of the old xlchc some years ago and only in
the past week or so resubscribed -- why it took me so long is a
mystery! but i'm very happy to be back.


>Sorry, All to open a counter-thread, but I have been doing some back
>reading of reviews etc, and came across this intriguing section of a
>review of a book devoted to second language (SL) learning and
>linguistic form and meaning (see below). I was intrigued by this
>section of the review (background: the field of SL "acquisition" is
>still dominated by psycholinguistic theories stemming from
>Chomskyian linguistic theory and conduit metaphors of communication,
>see Reddy's work of three decades ago). Like some others (both
>active and passive list members, based on the member list Mike
>mentioned earlier), I have been living the contradiction between the
>dominant platform in SL research and the one(s) that are more
>semiotically based and focused on human interaction and development.
>But should we always be in a position where we do not "fully agree"
>with the prevailing hegemonic views on aspects of human development
>when we have such exciting "counter views" based on the interests of
>many on this list? Views which have spurned their own debates
>between, for example, the strong socio-semiotic and interventionist,
>though somewhat inaccessible theories of the Australian SFL group
>based on Halliday, Martin, etc; the exciting group within the US
>that bases its work on sociocultural theory, albeit criticised for
>downplaying pedagogy (Lantolf, Wells, Thorne, Kramsch, etc); and the
>group of educational sociologists in the UK that have expanded and
>made more accessible the works of, for example, Bernstein. Apologies
>for the geographical divides here, but I am sure it is a little less
>in your face than religious analogies.
>I'm young in this academic game, and I'd love some pointers on ways
>to foster cross-talk rather than cross!-talk.
>Phil Chappell

Steven L. Thorne
Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics
Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
Communication Arts and Sciences
Associate Director, Center for Language Acquisition
Associate Director, Center for Advanced Language Proficiency 
Education and Research
The Pennsylvania State University
Interact > 814.863.7036 | | | IM: avkrook

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