Second language learning in a 'community of practice': A case study of adult Japanese learners

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This paper examines adult students learning Japanese as a foreign language (JFL) in a university course. It explores the relevance of Lave and Wenger's (1991) notion of community of practice (COP) in a foreign-language setting. The portfolio project described in this paper was introduced to investigate the forms of interaction that characterized the COP in this multilevel class. Drawing on audiotaped data from student-teacher conferences and the students' sharing sessions, this paper focuses on the experiences of three students and provides illustrative examples of the way in which the COP was instantiated in the classroom. Although the characteristics of learning in this JFL classroom identified in the data fit Lave and Wenger's description of a community of practice, the analysis revealed that this notion needs to be extended to account for the significant role of the teacher and of more capable peers in enabling the students to learn in their zones of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978, 1987).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-27
Number of pages17
JournalCanadian Modern Language Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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