Dynamic assessment in the classroom: Vygotskian praxis for second language development

James P. Lantolf, Matthew E. Poehner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

211 Scopus citations


This article reports the efforts of an elementary school teacher of Spanish as a second language to implement principles of dynamic assessment (DA) in her daily interactions with learners. DA is neither an assessment instrument nor a method of assessing but a framework for conceptualizing teaching and assessment as an integrated activity of understanding learner abilities by actively supporting their development (Poehner, 2008). DA is based on Vygotsky's (1987) proposal of the zone of proximal development (ZPD), which underscores the developmental importance of providing appropriate support to learners to help them stretch beyond their independent performance. The particular approach to DA that the teacher followed reflected her interpretation of the ZPD as well as her knowledge of her instructional context and was arrived at through consultation with the present authors. In other words, her use of DA represents a unification of theory and practice, as advocated by Vygotsky, whereby theory offers a basis to guide practice but at the same time practice functions to refine and extend theory. Examples of the teacher's interactions with learners in her classroom are discussed with regard to the opportunities for development they create.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-33
Number of pages23
JournalLanguage Teaching Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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