Center forLanguage Acquisition

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2022 Dr. Kim SCT Travel Grant Award to Tianfang Wang and Lu Yu

2022 Dr. Kim SCT Travel Grant Award to Tianfang Wang and Lu Yu

We are pleased to announce that Tianfang (Sally) Wang, PhD student in Applied Linguistics, and Lu Yu, PhD student in Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State, have been awarded the 2022 Dr. Kim Sociocultural Theory (SCT) Travel Grant. The winning titles and abstracts are included below.

Dr. Kim SCT Travel Grant was established through the generosity of Dr. Jiyun Kim, a graduate of Penn State’s doctoral program in applied linguistics, for graduate student travel to present at the annual meeting of the Sociocultural Theory L2 Research Group, or to present a paper significantly informed by sociocultural theory at a national or international conference. For more information, see our Dr. Kim SCT Travel Grant page.

Teaching the Concept of Conceptual Metaphor for L2 Learners’ Development in Academic English Communication (Tianfang Wang, AAAL proposal)

Learners’ abilities to comprehend and use metaphors have received increasing attention in L2 pedagogy research (e.g., Gutiérrez Pérez, 2019; Littlemore & Low, 2006; Littlemore, 2010), given the fundamental role conceptual metaphor (CM) plays in our thinking and discourse (Kövecses, 2017; Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, 1999). While academic discourse contains the highest percentage of metaphorical language when compared to conversation, news, and fiction (Steen et al., 2010), little research has been done to explore effective language pedagogy that promotes learners’ L2 development in academic English communication.

This presentation reports a part of a longitudinal pedagogical intervention where Sociocultural Theory-informed (Vygotsky, 1978) pedagogy, namely, Concept-based Language Instruction (Gal’perin, 1992; García, 2018; Lantolf & Poehner, 2014; Negueruela, 2003) was implemented to teach L2 English learners the concept of CM. Specifically, this study examines how eight international doctoral students’ scientific understanding of CM mediates their meaning-making process as they work collaborative and independently on comprehending, interpreting, and producing metaphorical language in U.S. academic contexts.

Microgenetic and ontogenetic analyses (Lantolf & Thorne, 2006; Vygotsky, 1987; Wertsch, 1985) on the intervention and interview data will illustrate how the pedagogical designs helped learners develop 1) abilities to identify and comprehend metaphors in academic texts; 2) abilities to evaluate the effectiveness of metaphors in academic discourse; 3) strategies to produce metaphors, and to rely on metaphorical mappings to discuss academic concepts; 4) the awareness of the embodied nature of academic language. Learners’ reflections will be shared on their learning experience and outcome, including how learning about the concept has helped them reconceptualize academic language and the changes in their meaning-making process months after the intervention. Pedagogical Implications will be discussed on using Concept-based Language Instruction to teach figurative language.

“I think of writing as an art”: Exploring perezhivanie in dynamic assessment of L2 writing (Lu Yu, AAAL proposal)

Dynamic Assessment (DA) follows Vygotsky’s (2012) proposal that learner responsiveness to support, or mediation, as they encounter tasks beyond their present abilities reveals abilities that are partly developed, or emerging. In the L2 field, researchers have implemented DA to diagnose learner understanding of language in a variety of instructional contexts (Poehner & Wang, 2020). To date, this work has conceptualized L2 development as an intellectual process. However, recent scholarship (Fleer et al., 2017) has emphasized Vygotsky’s position that affect and emotion exist in dialectic relation to cognitive and intellectual abilities. Vygotsky (1994) employed the term perezhivanie to conceptualize how environments are refracted through an individual’s history, leading to particular experiences that are at once intellectual and emotional. The implications of perezhivanie for understanding L2 learners’ experiences of instruction and assessment have only begun to be explored (Mahn & John-Steiner, 2002; Mok, 2015).

Following a case study approach, we report data from a larger project that employed DA to inform an individualized five-week instructional program focused on academic writing with L2 English learners (n=13) at a U.S. university. DA sessions at the start and conclusion of the study included drafts independently produced by learner prior to joint review with a teacher (mediator), independently revised drafts following mediation, and learner assessment of their writing. Triangulating transcribed interactions during DA, blind independent ratings of learner drafts, and learner interviews allows exploration of the question, How might DA have mediated both learner writing development and their emotional responses to writing? Data reveal growth in learner confidence that co-occurred with (1) learners’ improved rating scores, and (2) their evolving understanding of English academic writing as a multifaceted activity. Discussion highlights how assessors and teachers may promote L2 writer development through mediation that simultaneously focuses on qualities of the texts and learners’ emotional experiences with writing.