发布日期: 2021-09-29 浏览次数:
题目:Principles of Sociocultural Psychological Theory and Their Application to L2 Education and Development
主讲人:James Lantolf教授
时间:2021-09-29 16:41
地点:ZOOM链接: 会议号:815 5120 8715 密码:3797

Course Information

The course first considers the principles of sociocultural psychology and then examines how these principles have been extended to investigate the teaching and development of additional languages in adulthood. The foundation of SCT was laid down by the great Russian psychologist, L. S. Vygotsky and his colleagues, A. R. Luria, and A. N. Leontiev in the early part of the last century. The goal of the theory is to understand and explain the formation and functioning of human consciousness as a unified functional system that has its origins in the dialectical unity of biological and cultural processes. Unfortunately, because of his early death in 1934 at the age of 38, Vygotsky was unable to continue revise and expand the theory.


The theory was introduced to the English-speaking world beginning in the 1960s with the publication of an abridged version of Vygotsky’s classic work Thinking and Speech in 1962. Since the 1990s SCT has become the dominant developmental theory in general education and in some areas of psychology. The theory was initially extended to L2 research with the publication of Frawley and Lantolf’s (1985) article on L2 discourse from an SCT perspective.


The core principle of the theory is that human consciousness is MEDIATED by culturally constructed symbolic artifacts, in particular, language (or more appropriately put, language activity--what Merrill Swain calls “languaging”), that restructure the biologically inherited functions of the human brain. The other principles and concepts of the theory emerge from the core principle; these include internalization, inner and private speech, the zone of proximal development, scientific and everyday concepts, perezhivanie and the social situation of development. The theory also proposes a unique research methodology based on the premise that human thinking is mediated. This methodology is known as the GENETIC METHOD, which holds that to understand human thinking requires tracing its formation either from child to adult or from novice to expert, as for example may occur in the case of L2 learning.  Genesis then is about the history of mental processes. Researchers working within the theory also focus on understanding what happens to the functional system that is consciousness when it is impacted by biological accidents such as stroke or brain injury or cultural deprivation, as happens when humans are raised in less than robust social circumstances. They are also interested in finding ways to repair or compensate for a damaged or underdeveloped system.


L2 research informed by SCT assumes that because the theory is a general theory of human consciousness, L2 development should naturally fall within the purview of the theory. This means that SCT-L2 is not a stand-alone theory of SLA (that is, a theory developed solely to explain L2 development), but is instead rooted in the general theory of the human psyche proposed by Vygotsky. In the course we will first discuss in detail each of the theory’s principles and concepts and then we will exam the relevant L2 research that illustrates how these inform our understanding of SLA.


Since its inception SCT-L2 has seen two major strands of research orientation emerge: the first, extending from 1985 to 2003, was oriented to using the theory as a lens to observe and understand L2 development, primarily, though not exclusively, inside of the educational setting; the second, beginning in 2003 and extending to the present time, shifted its focus from observation to praxis (i.e., the unity of theory and practice aimed at intentionally provoking learner development. This approach is often referred to within the theory as developmental education. We will cover both orientations in the course but will place more emphasis on the current praxis-based approach to research.


Finally, it is important to point out that the journal Language and Sociocultural Theory was founded in 2014. The journal’s focus is on the study of language in all of its aspects within the framework of Vygotsky’s theory. This is important because even though language is the key component of the theory, mainstream SCT researchers have overlooked its relevance and have instead paid more attention to other aspects of the theory. In addition, in 1994, a research group was inaugurated, The SCT-L2 Research Working Group, with the goal of bringing together researchers interested in the study of L2 development and education to share in-progress research. The group has met for more than 25 years and will hold its next meeting in June of 2022 in Pamplona, Spain.


Format for the course


My hope is to make the course as interactive as possible within the constraints imposed by the software. For each class meeting, I will prepare a lecture on a specific topic with PPTs. I will also assign some readings for you to prepare and to comment on, ask questions about and react to. The readings will be drawn from the Vygotsky website: 


with regard to the general theory. There is also a new book on Vygotsky that is very readable and informative. If you are able to obtain a copy of the book, I will also select several chapters to read and discuss. The book is Barrs, Myra (2021). Vygotsky the teacher. A companion to his psychology for teachers and other practitioners. New York: Routledge. I will also send you some readings relative to SCT-L2 at the appropriate time.


With regard to questions, comments, etc. you should feel free to ask and comment during each class meeting.


Please note that the readings and any other course materials will be available to only to students registered through Center for the Cognitive Science of Language at BLCU


1. Veresov, N. Cultural-Historical Theory and the Dialectics of Lower and Higher Psychological Functions. Integr. psych. behav. (2021).

2. Dafermos M. Vygotsky’s analysis of the crisis in psychology: Diagnosis, treatment, and r


elevance. Theory & Psychology. 2014;24(2):147-165. doi:10.1177/0959354314523694


1. Barrs, M. 2021. Vygotsky the Teacher: A companion to his psychology for teachers and other practitioners. Routledge Press.

2. Ratner, Carl. 2002. Cultural psychology. Theory and Method. New York: Kluwar/Plenum. [This book discusses how to conduct sociocultural interviews and analyze data in chapters 4 & 5.

3. Danziger, Kurt. 1997. Naming the Mind: How Psychology found its Language. London: Sage.






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