Exploring English Learning and Teaching Practices Through Vygotskian Sociocultural Theory

Location

University of Minnesota Second Language Education Student Association, Minneapolis, MN

Date: 

Fri, 04/21/2017 to Sat, 04/22/2017

 

The CMES Student Travel Award 

Betul Kinik, School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Middle Eastern Culture and Pedagogy 

10th Annual SLA Graduate Student Symposium

Abstract:

The motive behind this descriptive study was to track the evidences of Vygotskian sociocultural theory in English language classes and in the curriculum for English classes, which is very scant in the EFL contexts, thus the study focuses on an EFL country which is Turkey in the current case. The study also investigated the perceptions of student teachers, who are in their last year in an English Language Teaching program, as well as the perceptions of language teachers and learners about the principles of sociocultural theory. Adopting a qualitative research design and taking two schools as case, the data collection process lasted seven weeks. An observation scheme including observable aspects of sociocultural theory was developed to scrutinize the classroom practices. In addition, the student teachers were asked to write weekly essays, and interviews were conducted with the learners and teachers to reveal the perceptions of teachers, student teachers and learners. Moreover, the English curriculum was analyzed in terms of sociocultural constructs so that the congruencies and incongruences between the practices of the teachers and the suggestions of the curriculum could be detected. The data were analyzed through Grounded Theory, and the analysis revealed that even though the English language teachers, student teachers and learners were in favor of sociocultural principles, English language teachers had problems in implementing the principles. The overall analysis of the findings led the researchers propose a model which explains how the teachers shape their classroom practices. The model includes four dimensions, which are awareness, knowledge, barriers and practice. In the model, the awareness and knowledge are depicted as the basic elements and presented as reciprocal in nature. In addition, all the factors affecting teachers are defined as barriers, and all these interacting factors filtered through lead teachers to make their decisions.