Dialogues of appropriation

Dialogical perspectives to language learning and teaching

Research project funded by the Academy of Finland 2008–2011.

The research project discusses a dialogical, socio-cognitive approach to second and foreign language learning and teaching. Theoretically, we draw on dialogism of the Bakhtin Circle, socio-cultural views of second language acquisition (SLA) / foreign language learning research, and various non-Cartesian approaches to cognition.

The project has a strong theoretical orientation. We aim particularly to highlight the socio-cognitive dimension of language learning, a perspective which differs in many important aspects from the earlier, ‘cognitivist’ mainstream of SLA research and its hypotheses. We will examine first, the conceptualisations (‘beliefs’, ‘everyday knowledge’) of language learners and teachers from a dialogical point of view. Second, we will study the implications of the socio-cognitive approach by analysing instances of actual language use in interactions.  These will be examined in the context of language learning and teaching.

Theoretical issues are connected to the praxis of language education in Finland. The languages we study are a) Finnish as a second language, b) Swedish as a second/foreign language and c) English as a foreign language/lingua franca, and to an extent, d) Finnish as a first language. In addition, other languages are included in a substudy of parallel learning of several second/foreign languages (L3, L4, L5).

The results of the project can be used in the development of language teaching, curricula and teacher training, as well as in the development of immigration education policy.