Re: [xmca] Syllogism and interlanguage

From: Sarah Hyde <shyde who-is-at>
Date: Sat Dec 29 2007 - 21:18:33 PST

Hi Mark,

I too am in the process of my dissertation and am pleased to see some
references made to sociocultural theory on this list as it is more in
my domain than Activity theory, hence my re of my thesis and am
looking at how medical students regulate their learning in
problem-based learning (PBL) contexts and how they transfer this to
the hospital setting. I am using sociocultural theory, and it seems to
me that in response to your question:
"In the sociocultural theory the students in the classroom are
focusing on the use of the
language and their use of language eventually develops their abilities
to effectively
acquire language? Is this more individual?"

perhaps one of the issues to look at involves internalisation and
externalisation. Perhaps your students are not internalising some of
the principles of language acquisition. Or perhaps they are
internalising it but not able to externalise it accurately?!

I also think there are some problems associated with students
'acquiring' new knowledge or language. My understanding of
sociocultural theory is that learners transform their understanding in
interaction with others and with artifacts to create new meaning and
create new knowledge in doing so, a kind of social constructivist
approach. I think the notion of 'acquisition' implies some sort of
blank slate approach where the learner simply fills up their mind with
the appropriate material instead of transforming it for their own
understanding and then externalisating that understanding.

As an example of internalisation and externalisation for example, in
my study, the PBL tutor asks the group why they are suggesting certain
hypotheses for the patients problem, why they are conducting certain
tests, why is one hypothesis more likely than another and so on to
probe students understanding and to get them to elaborate on their
reasoning. My results suggest that students internalise these
facilitation strategies and subsequently externalise them in the
clinical setting when they are with peers and practice skills on one
another or observe each other taking a patient history. Afterwards,
students will give their peers feedback and ask them why did you ask
such and such a question, why did you phrase it that way etc.

I am drawing on the work of Richard Walker and Kimberly
Pressick-Kilborn in my understanding of sociocultural theory.

Hope this is helpful, I struggle with Activity theory and perhaps
either/or could be used depending on which type of perspective you
take. I have also found it useful when analysing my results to use
Rogoff's 3 planes of analysis - Individual, Interpersonal and
Community. In my study, the PBL group is the community. Perhaps they
may correspond with the Individual-Society-Community triad mentioned
in later posts?


Quoting Mark deBoer <>:

> Hello everyone,
> I apologize for introducing a new thread amongst the discussions of
> Andy's article.
> I am beginning my dissertation outline now and have started to go back
> over some of my notes, especially those to do with The genetic method.
> What I am attempting to do in my dissertation is to link Vygotsky with
> methodology in the EFL classroom. In the past year or so, I have
> developed a new type of methodology which focuses on learning how to
> learn in a student centered classroom. In one of my papers I focused on
> the development of interlanguage, which I believe is a fundamental
> principle to language acquisition. Here in Japan, the focus is too much
> on learning a set phrase, learning some vocabulary, and then doing
> pairwork with flash cards or games in which the phrase is repeated. The
> problem with this kind of methodology is that there is no
> interlanguage. There is no language learned in a social setting which
> is applicable to the language target being 'learned'.
> In developing the V-task (methodology) I have focused on a number of
> different ideas.
> 1. The use of interlanguage in the classroom and how language is
> transferred from 'more capable peers' in a interactive setting.
> 2. The use of language to acquire more language, rather than the focus
> on learning new language and leaving learnt language behind.
> 3. The discourse that occurs in the V-task classroom and how it
> compares with the Sinclair-Coulthard IRF model. The reduction of
> display questions as well as 'embedding', student-student only
> interactions and the reduction of Feedback were examined and I created
> a complementary model to the Sinclair-Coulthard model which examined
> the discourse in that kind of interactive environment.
> 4. A study of the dynamics of the classroom using the activity theory
> and recently the activity system transformation in the V-task classroom.
> Since my interest lies in acquisition in the EFL classroom, there are a
> number of ideas that I hope someone can assist me with.
> In Lantolf and Thorne's Sociocultural Theory and the Genesis of Second
> Language Development, they discuss Luria's research (p.39) with regards
> to syllogism.
> If for example, we use the general IRF model (prominent in Japan) for
> our discourse patter in the classroom, we might get something like this:
> T: What time is it? (holding a flash card)
> S(s): It's one o'clock.
> T: Good
> T: Now, What time is it?
> S(s): It's 2 o'clock.
> T: Good.
> and the pattern continues. If students in their own practice sessions
> make an error, the teacher more than often corrects them on form until
> the target is learned.
> In a classroom where interlanguage has been a focus and students are
> more aware of the language and how it works could encounter in context
> a variety of the above language target and still be able to get by.
> 1. Do you have the time?
> 2. What's the time?
> 3. Got the time?
> 4. Excuse me, could you give me the time?
> In the interlanguage setting, the uses of have, what, got and give
> could be construed as what the question intended to ask and that being
> that 'I would like to know the time but I don't have a watch'. Give,
> have or got, in the regular classroom are always taught with concrete
> nouns thus possibly causing confusion.
> Could syllogism be paralleled with interlanguage? Luria notes that it
> is possible to develop the ability to derive a conclusion from
> syllogism. In that regard is this correct?
> Since the research covers scaffolding in the classroom (microgenesis)
> and then moves into student autonomy (ontogenesis) and the study of the
> dynamics of the classroom in this setting, eventually I would like to
> take the research to the sociocultural theory and discuss the
> development of the classroom setting over a period of time. This would
> be with respect to the student - student interaction and the
> development of interlanguage in the classroom. The discourse analysis
> would determine how the classroom dynamics progressed over a period of
> time.
> My question for this though, has been one that I can't seem to wrap my
> head around. From the perspective of the Sociocultural theory and how
> the language develops in the classroom, I'd like to find out if I am
> crossing over into the activity theory realm.
> The interaction which occurs in the classroom and the roles of each
> student and the teacher based on the V-task lesson within the activity
> theory, and how the roles change over time are separate from the
> development of interlanguage?
> Am I correct to believe that:
> In the sociocultural theory the students in the classroom are focusing
> on the use of the language and their use of language eventually
> develops their abilities to effectively acquire language? Is this more
> individual?
> In the activity theory, the students are in collaboration with each
> other to finish the task as well as eventually defining roles and rules
> for each other within the classroom?
> Is there no link between the two? I think there should be, and maybe I
> am not well read enough to know the difference, but I think that the
> effectiveness of the interaction in the classroom in the activity
> theory should define the effectiveness of the acquisition.
> This has been a burning question.
> I hope that someone can help me with my questions.
> Thank you!
> Mark
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Sarah Hyde
Lecturer, Medical Education
Centre for Innovation in Professional Health Education and Research |CIPHER
Mackie Building
The University of Sydney
Postal address: PO Box 1191, Orange, 2800, NSW, Australia
Ph: +61 2 6392 8737 Fax: +61 2 6392 8739
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Received on Sat Dec 29 21:22 PST 2007

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