Scaffolding and affordances

Second language learning as social participation

Post-doc project funded by the Academy of Finland (2011-2013).

The study explores how immigrants learning Finnish take advantage of their different learning environments. A key question is how participation in social communities and their activities promotes language learning.

The study is implemented in a dialogical and sociocultural framework, in which language is seen as a variable, situational and dynamic phenomenon, and language learning as a process in which scaffolding and affordances are in the core. The study thus investigates what kind of assistance and learning opportunities are available to second language learners as they participate in different social activities.

To construct a view of the relationship between participation and learning, interactional encounters and narratives of language learners are analysed. Furthermore, individuals with whom the learners are in contact are interviewed. The study mainly adopts an ethnographic approach, but will also conduct meta-analyses of prior studies.

Another aim of the study is to promote the theoretical, methodological and pedagogical development of the field of Finnish as a second language. The pedagogical goals relate to the ongoing process of launching functional language pedagogy as a basis of language education development: the project aims to e.g. identify suitable ways of helping learners make use of the various learning environments outside of educational settings. At the same time, one of the learning contexts in focus is the school environment; this part of the study is conducted in co-operation with MA Sirkku Latomaa.

The project continues research work started within the project Dialogues of appropriation: Dialogical perspectives to language learning and teaching (2008-2010); see also Finnish as a work language.

PI: Minna Suni