Alex, the toolmaker: Tool-and-result activity in the L2 learning context

Paolo Infante, Matthew E. Poehner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The L2 field has seen recurrent calls for pedagogical approaches that, on the one hand, emphasize learner communicative needs as a starting point, and that, on the other hand, reexamine the importance of dialogic support offered to learners as they employ instructional materials during authentic tasks. Particular attention has been paid to overcoming this methodological gap within the L2 Vygotskian tradition, particularly through concept-based approaches. More recently, Poehner and Infante (2015, 2017) have proposed Mediated Development (MD), a framework for guiding dialogic interaction with learners intended to render concept-based instructional materials as cognitive tools to regulate learner L2 use. The present paper extends this work by examining a particular aspect of learner development: self-generated representations of an abstract linguistic concept. Analysis of recorded and transcribed interactions between a mediator and secondary school and university ESL learners reveals how modeling and controlled practice activities of the instructional materials, informed by the MD framework, were critical to participant ability to create original conceptual representations of the English tense-aspect system that elaborated the concepts presented by the mediator. We discuss this finding in relation to Newman and Holzman's (1993) proposal of tool-and-result as a Vygotskian methodology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100862
JournalLinguistics and Education
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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