Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview Chapter 2: the Impact of Service-learning on Second Language Writing

  • Published 2010


Research reveals that successful second language acquisition requires a complex interplay of cognitive, affective, and sociocultural elements (Brown, 2000). Theories describing communicative competence recognize four interrelated competencies that inform overall communicative aptitude: grammatical competence (ability to use words and grammatical rules), sociolinguistic competence (ability to know when to use appropriate forms for specific contexts or the sociocultural understanding of language use), discourse competence (ability to use language with proper cohesion and coherence), and strategic competence (ability to use communication strategies to avoid communication breakdowns) (Canale & Swain, 1980). While it is relatively easy to teach and assess grammatical, discourse, and strategic competency knowledge and skills using traditional language pedagogy, it is challenging to teach sociolinguistic competency, let alone assess it, using these traditional approaches. Traditional pedagogy tends to focus on textbook learning, which caters to vocabulary and grammar skills development. While most language practitioners incorporate elements of social interaction in the classroom, they are limited by the traditional classroom environment. Most popular language textbooks and programs include canned or student-created dialogues to build strategic competence, but the dialogues are manufactured for classroom use. They artificially recreate authentic language experiences. Even innovative language immersion programs are limited by the classrooms in which they are conducted. Second language students still mostly interact with students and teachers in a classroom environment – they just happen to be 2 interacting entirely in a second language. As such, most language students never have the opportunity to practice and gain language skills in an authentic language context. Second language sociolinguistic competency develops when students engage in authentic social interaction in real-world contexts. Sociocultural theory, based on the work of Lev Vygotsky, describes how " the human mind is mediated " by physical and symbolic tools (language) to form meaning (Lantolf, 2000, p. 1). Individuals use language to process the world around them. Thoughts and experiences are transformed into cognitive understanding through social interaction. If students are to gain true sociolinguistic competency, they must practice their language skills in authentic social interactions. While the constraints of a traditional classroom may account for deficiencies in the development of sociolinguistic competency in language learning, some language teachers have found that providing service-learning opportunities as an integral part of the language classroom curriculum may be an effective means to incorporate sociocultural aspects. Service-learning ties academic content with needed community service. In service-learning projects, students are called to practice classroom content …

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@inproceedings{2010Chapter1I, title={Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview Chapter 2: the Impact of Service-learning on Second Language Writing}, author={}, year={2010} }