Hearing Voices: Collectividuals and Agency in Language Classrooms
James P. Lantolf (The Pennsylvania State University; Xi’an JiaoTong University)
Little (2007) argues that “a theory of learner autonomy should tell us what it is necessary to do in order to develop autonomous language learners and users and at the same time provide us with criteria by which to evaluate our efforts.” This presentation attempts to respond to Little’s statement from the perspective of sociocultural theory as originally proposed in the writings of L. S. Vygotsky and his colleagues and later extended by contemporary neo-Vygotskyan researchers interested in how this theory not only informs but also guides educational praxis, especially with regard to languages beyond the first. The theory proposes that one is not born an individual but becomes one as a consequence of participating in social relations in which our goal-directed activity and thinking is guided by others, who at the same time provide the target or “ideal” toward which our development moves. Eventually, we appropriate the meanings and ways of talking that occur during these activities and in so doing achieve independent ability. However, there is always and everywhere residual presence of those whose voices and behaviors we collaborate with. Consequently, even in our independent activity and thinking we are not truly autonomous beings, but “collectividuals” (Stetsenko, 2017). A key element in development as independent collectividuals is dialogue in which we first interact with others and then interact with ourselves in I ~ You > I ~ Me conversations. This process, referred to in the theory as interiorization, results in our ability to carry out thinking independent of the physical presence of events and objects, or what for Gal’perin is mental activity. Gal’perin, an advocate of one version of SCT eventually proposed and tested an approach to formal education in which conceptual information and I ~ You / I ~ Me dialogue plays a central role. I will consider the major principles and concepts of the theory and how these are concretized in education as systematic development with particular attention given to the development of “autonomous” language ability in adult learners.
James P. Lantolf, the Greer Professor in Language Acquisition and Applied Linguistics in the Department of Applied Linguistics at the Pennsylvania State University. He is Director of the Center for Language Acquisition, and Director of CALPER (Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research) Penn State’s Title VI Language Resource Center. He was president of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (2005), served as co-editor of Applied Linguistics (1993-1998), and is founding editor of Language and Sociocultural Theory, Equinox Press. His research focuses on sociocultural theory and second language development in classroom settings. He is co-author of Sociocultural theory and the genesis of second language development (2006), Oxford University Press. His 2014 co-authored book, Sociocultural theory and the pedagogical imperative: Vygotskian praxis and the L2 research/practice divide (Routledge) was awarded the Mildenberger Prize of the Modern Language Association of America for its contribution to the teaching of language and culture. He edited Sociocultural theory and second language learning (2000), Oxford University Press, and co-edited Vygotskian approaches to second language research (1994), Ablex Press, and Sociocultural theory and the teaching of second languages (2008), Equinox Press, and is currently working on the co-edited Routledge Handbook on Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning. In 2016 the Chinese Ministry of Education awarded him the Yangtze River (Chanjiang) Professor in Applied Linguistics at Xi’an JiaoTong University. In the same year, he received the Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award of the American Associate for Applied Linguistics. In 2017, the School of Foreign Studies at Xi’an JiaoTong University established the Lantolf Research Center for Second Language Studies in his honor.
A Collaborative Reflection on Our Professional Journeys with Learners' Voices
Chika Hayashi (Seikei University, Japan)
Leena Karlsson (University of Helsinki, Finland)
In our joint plenary, by engaging in a dialogue and in a sharing of experiences and stories, we will illustrate, analyse and theorize our professional journeys with a special focus on our common research interest: learners’ voices. We will re-story our pasts as practitioners, researchers and persons. Through the dialogue, we will further reconstruct our experiential narratives and orient ourselves towards the future in this meeting of hearts, minds and bodies. Our session will take us and the listeners on a journey along two winding roads, two roads that travel through different landscapes, yet are profoundly similar. We will trace the roots of our interest in learners’ voices and explore how our professional and personal histories are interrelated. We will also discuss how we have explored these voices in our advising/counselling, teaching and research. Through sharing some critical incidents, works and texts, we will demonstrate how we have approached learners’ voices and how our approaches have changed and transformed over the years. The concerns, challenges and dilemmas we have faced in our work and how we have travelled on with narrative will emerge in the dialogue. Eventually, we will reflect on how listening to and working with learners' voices help us understand the complexity of our experience as language educators. Through interweaving learners’ voices with episodes from our own lives as practitioners and individuals we will consider how our learners benefit from this evolved understanding.
Chika Hayashi is an Associate Professor at Seikei University in Tokyo, Japan. Her research interests include motivation, learner/teacher autonomy, teacher education, and cultural influences on classroom language learning. Her major publications include “Co-constructive storying of our journey toward autonomy” in Learner Development Working Papers: Different Cases, Different Interests (2014), “Exploring collaborative dialogue in group journal writing” in Collaborative Learning in Learner Development (2014) “Weaving threads of autonomy: the challenge for personal pedagogic change” in Autonomy in Language Learning: Stories of Practice (2013) and “Transformative learning in action: insights from the practice of journal writing” in Realizing Autonomy: Practice and Refection in Language Education Contexts (2012).
Leena Karlsson is University Lecturer in English at the University of Helsinki Language Centre, Finland. Her research and publications focus on learner/teacher autonomy, language advising/counselling, learner diversity, lifewide and lifedeep learning, autobiographical writing in language learning, and narrative inquiry and stories in educational settings. She co-ordinates the Autonomous Learning Modules Programme (ALMS) at the Language Centre and pedagogy for autonomy has been the driving force in her practice for more than 20 years. She co-authored the book From Here to Autonomy. A Helsinki University Language Centre Autonomous Project with Felicity Kjisik and Joan Nordlund in 1997 and has published widely in the field of learner autonomy.
Supporting Learners through Dialogue Within and Beyond the Classroom
Jo Mynard (Kanda University of International Studies, Japan)
Learning beyond the classroom can be said to be the most powerful kind of learning and this may or may not involve teachers (Benson & Reinders, 2011; Reinders & Benson, 2017). Whereas traditionally, a self-access center was a semi-controlled environment where educators could provide the resources and support that learners needed, nowadays learners have access to any number of environments and resources. However they choose to engage with target language resources and environments, language learners inevitably need support (Curry & Mynard, 2014). The kind of support depends on the learner, but will always involve dialogue whereby the learners have opportunities “to find and strengthen their learner voices and explore their learner identities” (Karlsson, 2012, p. 188). The actual support may include support in organising their learning, in choosing how to learn and which resources work for them, in reflecting on and evaluating their processes and progress, in finding opportunities to collaborate with others, and in regulating their own motivational and affective states. In this presentation, I will draw upon research and examples of practice in order to suggest ways in which learners might best be supported through dialogue. Although many of these ideas may not be new, it is important to document and disseminate ways in which practitioners and researchers around the world are exploring learner autonomy beyond the classroom. My presentation will include examples of support through dialogue in the following contexts:
- Language classes.
- Self-access centers.
- Self-directed learning courses.
- Social learning communities.
Jo Mynard is a professor and director of the Self-Access Learning Center at Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) in Chiba, Japan. She holds an EdD in TEFL from the University of Exeter, UK and an M.Phil in Applied Linguistics from Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland. She is the founding editor of Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal and has also co-edited four books related to learner autonomy and advising. She co-authored Reflective Dialogue: Advising in Language Learning with Satoko Kato (published in 2015 by Routledge, NY). She is particularly interested in research related to advising, self-directed learning, learning beyond the classroom / self-access learning, and the affective dimensions of language learning. In 2017, she was appointed Director of the Research Institute of Learner Autonomy Education (RILAE) and is interested in bringing together educators and researchers in order to enrich our understanding of the field, and facilitate the development of a research and professional development agenda.