Making l2 teacher education matter through vygotskian-inspired pedagogy and research

Karen E. Johnson, Paula R. Golombek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


Does L2 teacher education matter? The answer would seem to be “we don’t know.” In their recent introductory article for The Modern Language Journal special issue on language teacher cognition, Kubanyiova and Feryok (2015) maintain that the field of teacher cognition has barely begun to answer two fundamental questions about developing L2 teacher/teaching expertise: “How do language teachers create meaningful learning environments for their students?” and “How can teacher education, continuing professional development, and the wider educational and sociocultural context facilitate such learning in language teachers?” (p. 435). We agree that a concerted, long-term effort to explore these two questions is critical, ultimately in order to enhance L2 teaching and learning, as well as to reclaim the relevance of L2 teacher education. As veteran L2 teacher educators/researchers whose practice and research are grounded in Vygotskian sociocultural theory (SCT), we unequivocally state that L2 teacher education matters. It matters because, for Vygotsky, school learning is the ideal venue for systematic learning through intentional, well-organized instruction that embodies a range of academic concepts1 designed to enable learners to think and act in ways that transcend their everyday experiences. It matters because, for many current and future L2 teachers, L2 teacher education may be the only occasion when the learning of teaching is the result of systematic, intentional, well-organized, goal-directed instruction. It matters because teacher educators are in a unique position to intentionally shape the social situation of development by creating structured mediational spaces, or “invitational structures or spaces for learners to step into and grow into” (van Lier, 2004, p. 162). It matters because it is inside the practices of L2 teacher education that teacher educators can best identify teachers’ needs and abilities, which we term their potentiality, and can engage with them responsively in order to support the development both of L2 teachers (individuals preparing to become teachers) and L2 teaching (the activity of teaching). This final point is especially important as it underscores the dialectic relation between individuals’ expertise and activity: the goal of L2 teacher education is to promote the development of teachers’ expertise as well as their use of this expertise to transform their teaching.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Development
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781317229902
ISBN (Print)9781138651555
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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