Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Beyond Classroom Discourse: Learning as Participation in Native Speaker-Learner and Learner-Learner Interactions

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Beyond Classroom Discourse: Learning as Participation in Native Speaker-Learner and Learner-Learner Interactions

Article excerpt

Introduction

Many Japanese as a second or foreign language curricula in general and textbooks in particular continue to emphasize discrete elements of language. Furthermore, pressure to cover the curriculum tends to limit opportunities during which learners use the language to exchange information and use their developing knowledge and skills to co-construct meaning with other speakers both within and beyond the classroom community. What is more, it has long been observed that much of what happens in second language (L2) classrooms reflects initiation-response-evaluation (IRE) (Mehan, 1979). One drawback of such instructor-led discourse is that it limits learner participation to the mere recitation of vocabulary and grammatical paradigms, with little opportunity to develop broader interactional competencies that are needed outside of the classroom (Hall, Hellerman, & Pakarek Doehler, 2011).

By contrast, numerous L2 studies have looked into L2 learning opportunities that are characterized by initiation-responsefeedback (IRF) patterns (Sinclair & Coulthard, 1975) in which participants use language to extend rather than close a conversation. Such studies have considered, in particular, instructor-learner collaborative classroom interaction (Anto^n, 1999; Hall, 2010; Mondada & Pakarek Doehler, 2004); teacher-led, whole-class discourse (Toth, 2008); peer-peer collaborative interaction (Donato, 1994; Swain & Lapkin, 1998); and native speaker-learner interaction (Adams, Nuevo, & Egi, 2011; Dobao, 2012). While most of these studies have reported learners' improved performance of target grammatical forms (i.e., lexical, morphological, and morphosyntactic items) during specific task-based activities such as jigsaw, text reconstruction, and spot-the-difference/information-gap tasks, few studies have addressed the way in which interactions with native speakers (NSs) during a classroom activity contribute to the learner's changing participation and development during ongoing interaction with that NS and subsequent use of those new L2 resources, a perspective that frames the present study.

Review of Literature

Learning as Participation

From the perspective of sociocultural theory, it has long been proposed that social interaction in culturally structured activities with a more skilled partner enables a novice to extend the skills, values, and knowledge of a particular community (Rogoff, 1995; Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky maintained that human cognitive development is mediated by symbolic means (e.g., language) co-constructed between people. Within this perspective, language learning takes place as the learner gains more control of what was afforded in prior interaction- that is, becomes "able to use the language of others" (Swain & Lapkin, 1998, p. 321). What is more, Rogoff (1998) viewed learning and development as a transformation of participation: Rather than consisting of acquiring knowledge and skills, learning was conceived as a process in which a person develops through participation in an activity, changing to be involved in the situation in ways that contribute to both the direction of the ongoing event and the person's preparation for involvement in other similar events.

The concept of learning as changes in participation has also been captured by the notion of L2 acquisition as a situated, coconstructed process (Young & Miller, 2004). From this perspective, learning is rooted in what the learner is doing when he or she participates in both social practice and the process of continuous adaptation to unfolding circumstances and activities (Hellermann, 2008; Nguyen, 2011; Pakarek Doehler & Ziegler, 2007). A number of studies have addressed learning as a socially situated practice where learners or novices can appropriate symbolic means (e.g., language) through collaborative participation in social-interactive activity with more mature or expert participants (e.g., Lantolf & Poehner, 2008; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Mondada & Pakarek Doehler, 2004; Ohta, 2001). …

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