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Sociolinguistic Theory: Vygotsky

Fordham Group Project for Language for School Learning, Dr. Ness Joseph Evering, Miggy Lopez, Simon Shoushi
by Miguelina Lopez on 22 February 2011

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Transcript of Sociolinguistic Theory: Vygotsky

Lev S. Vygotsky
Sociolinguistic Theory Historical Context Language is learned in interpersonal interactions and then used by the child in self-thought. Language is multifunctional, serving as a social interactive tool and also as an abstract representation for internal logical reasoning. Language is a force that drives cognitive development because language mediates the child’s participation in intellectual and social environments. Language leads to new forms for cognitive organization.
Language is the most significant achievement of childhood. His work remained unknown in the western world for multiple reasons. His work was suppressed by Stalin because it was not in line with the Communist party’s largely behaviorist view of psychology. Vygotsky’s work was also limited by the political ramifications of the Cold War. His career was cut short when he died from tuberculosis. Edward Thorndike
1874-1949 Jean Piaget
1896-1980 Vygostky disagreed with Piaget, he felt the individual stages did not explain the child's interaction with society Vygotksy disagreed with Koffka, he felt that gestalt psychology idea did not capture the complexity of human behavior and development Vygotsky disagreed with Thorndike, he felt the stimulus response relationship only explained specific habits and didn't explain higher order behaviors Human mental development activity is self-initiated, solitary child-as-learner. Kurt Koffka
1886-1941 Language Development Thought initially
precedes language Thought is later
influenced by language "We need only try to imagine the enormous changes in the cultural development of children that occur as a result of mastery of written language and the ability to read-and of thus becoming aware of everything that human genious has created in the realm of the written word. " Vyotsky (1978) Developmental History of Written Language Gestures & Visual Signs "Gestures, it has been correctly said, are writing in air, and written signs frequently are simply gestures that have been fixed." Vygotsky (1978) Symbolism
Development in Play "Children's symbolic play can be understood as a very complex system of "speech" through gestures that communicate and indicate the meaning of playthings." Vygotsky (1978) Second-order symbolism
Written signs representing spoken words (spiral line for smoke) Symbolism Development
in Drawing Children are much more symbolist than narutalists in their drawings. They are not concerned with complete and exact similarity. Two Types of Symbolism Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) was born in Belarus, Russia. He was looking for a psychology theory that would explain the human development through an individual's interaction with the rest of society. He was critical of contemporary theories that failed to achieve his goal. The most basic form of learning is trial and error learning. Learning is incremental not insightful.
Learning is not mediated by ideas. Sensorimotor learning is a type of learning which occurs after a consequence Much of learning occurs by imitation. Vygotksy felt that Koffka's gestalt psychology idea did not capture the complexity of human behavior and development Piaget described the child as a little scientist, constructing an understanding of the world primarily alone, whereas Vygotsky (1978, 1986, 1987, 1993) argued that cognitive development (i.e. knowledge, ideas, attitudes, and values) depends on interactions with the adults in the child’s life (Woolfolk, 1997). Vygotsky & Prominent
Contemporaries Piaget believed that language is both based on and determined by thought. Development precedes learning Development occurs in series of stages that is the same for all learners. Learning results as a function of interacting with others Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) refers to the ideal level of task difficulty to facilitate learning which, according to Vygotsky, is the level at which a child can be successful with appropriate support. Tasks that children can independently complete do not fall within the zone of proximal development and therefore, according to this theory, are not ideal for promoting children’s development (Tracey, 2006). Teaching & Learning First-order symbolism
Symbols that directly denote actions or objects (stick for a horse, pencil dots on a page to denote running) Symbolism
Development in writing Children's written language develops from gestures, to playing, to drawing of things, to drawing of words. Scaffolding Vygotsky explains scaffolding as the support (i.e. clues, reminders, encouragement, breaking task to smaller manageable units, give examples) provided to the child by the adult to promote learning (Slavin, 1997). If children are presented with tasks that are not challenging enough or that are too complicated, they will not learn. In progressive learning the teacher models strategies and knowledge, students attempt to perform the task as the teacher did. Learning is achieved when teachers do complex tasks in meaningful and challenging conditions with students helping as much as they can. As repetition of the task happens, students eventually take on more and more of the responsibility with teacher assistance as needed and eventually students perform tasks independently. ZPD theory’s Connection to
Progressive Learning ZPD theory’s Connection to
Progressive Classroom Practice Direct and explicit instruction emerge from this theoretical perspective as well. Direct teaching occurs over time and broken down into small manageable segments until students master the new strategy and know how and when to use it. In direct and explicit instruction, the teacher starts with modeling a new strategy or skill in the context of its use and students watch. Through this process, the teacher will talk through (think-aloud) what the strategy is, when the strategy should be used, and how to go about using it. Then, the teacher engages in the task with the student helping out. Next, the students attempt to take over the task of using the strategy with the teacher helping as needed. Lastly, the students independently use the strategy and the teacher evaluates students’ performance. Students that are advanced may skip ahead or be provided with enrichment while students that experience difficulty, the teacher may need to go back a step and provide additional support (Carnine et al., 2004). Limitations Language may not be the only or the most important factor in human development.
Vygotsky does not count biological factors as crucial elements to explain how children learn. Link to some of Vygotsky's writing:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/
(cut and paste in browser to view) References
Au, K. H. (1997). A soiocultural model of reading instruction: The Kamehameha
Elementary Education Program. In S. A. Stahl & D. A. Hayes (Eds.),
Instructional models in reading (pp. 181-202). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Carnine, D. W., Silbert, J., Kame’enui, E.J., &Tarver, S. G. (2004). Direct instruction
reading (4th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Gredler, M. E. & Shields, C. C. (2008). Vygotsky's Legacy. New York. The Guilford
Press.

Green, C. D., (2002). Classics in the History of Psychology. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from Psychoclassics: http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Thorndike/Animal/chap5.htm

Green, C. D. (2002). Kurt Koffka (1922) Perception: An introduction to the Gestalt-theorie . Retrieved February 14, 2011, from Classics in the History of Psychology: http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Koffka/Perception/perception.htm

Slavin, R. E. (1997). Educational psychology: Theory and practice (5th ed.). Needham
Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Tracey, H. T., Morrow, L. M. (2006). Lenses on Reading: An introduction to theories and models. New York: Guilford Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological
processes. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). Problems of general psychology. New York: Plenum Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1993). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky: Vol. 2 (J. Knox & C.
Stevens, Trans.). New York: Plenum Press.

Woolfolk, A. E. (1998). Educational psychology (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Reaction:
The Vygotskian view of the significance of the individuals’ interaction with society is consistent with what we as teachers know about the importance of socioeconomic status and having educational success. As educators, Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development is also consistent with working with students who have not yet grasped a topic and need support to move ahead. A combined teaching approach that incorporates Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theory would provide an even more complete picture of human development.
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