An investigation of the significance of cultural historical activity theory on Methodology in L1 and L2 and the implications for the role of drama in the teaching of second language acquisition (SLA)

Year: 2012

Author: Christen, Lesley

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This paper presents a theoretically based argument that seeks to identify a line of thinking originating in the work of Vygotsky and its development into a particular strand of post-°©-Vygotskian thought, known as Activity Theory. This system will be described for its relevance to the central proposition, that the use of process drama as a mediating activity embodying spontaneous and collaborative interaction, greatly assists in the best practice of teaching English as an Additional Language. Sociocultural theory, which argues that 'human mental functioning is fundamentally a mediated process that is organized by cultural artifacts, activities, and concepts,' (Ratner, 2002) has gained attention across the humanities, social sciences, and education over the past two decades. However commentators in the area of second language teaching have largely subscribed to a line of thinking communicated by Sharwood -°©- Smith (1991) when he stated that the cake of SLA is cognitive while its ”icing” is the social. Although sociocultural theory has been a basis for research in the field of applied linguistics in SLA, (Lantolf and Thorne 2006, 2007) such interest is viewed as a departure from traditional cognitive approaches in research and journal articles in EAL (see Zuenglar and Miller, 2006). Sociocultural perspectives of language and learning view language use in real life situations as fundamental not ancillary to learning. As Lantolf and Pavlenko (1995) write ' development does not proceed as the unfolding of innate capacities once they intertwine with socially constructed meditational means'. By examining Vygotsky's insights, I will highlight elements of first language learning and examine current published evidence that substantiates the link between elements present in the theoretical framework of first language, learning, and best teaching practice in the teaching of additional languages. Through the identification of elements of drama present in first language lear