Sociocultural considerations of communicative competence

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter approaches the topic of communicative competence and second language education from the perspective of Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory. As a general theory of human consciousness, Sociocultural Theory provides a vantage from which to understand how learner engagement in various forms of interaction and with curricula and materials gives rise to second language communicative abilities in instructional contexts. Foundational concepts and principles in Sociocultural Theory are introduced, including mediation, psychological tools, and Zone of Proximal Development. It is emphasized that Vygotsky elaborated these and other features of the theory through praxis, that is, through employing theory as a basis to address problems of practice and understanding this activity as essential to refining theory. The chapter considers work over the past 40 years that has extended Sociocultural Theory into the field of second language studies, beginning with early work invoking notions of mediation and internalization and continuing through studies of languaging and private speech before turning to Dynamic Assessment and Concept-based Language Instruction as instances of praxis. The chapter concludes with discussion of two interrelated topics that have begun to receive attention and may prove highly relevant to future work: the Social Situation of Development and perezhivanie.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCommunicative Competence in a Second Language
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Method, and Applications
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages226
ISBN (Electronic)9781000830309
ISBN (Print)9780367750244
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences

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