Sociocultural Theory and the Pedagogical Imperative in L2 Education: Vygotskian Praxis and the Research/Practice Divide, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Sociocultural Theory and the Pedagogical Imperative in L2 Education

Vygotskian Praxis and the Research/Practice Divide, 1st Edition

By James P. Lantolf, Matthew E. Poehner


252 pages

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Explicating clearly and concisely the full implication of a praxis-oriented language pedagogy, this book argues for an approach to language teaching grounded in a significant scientific theory of human learning—a stance that rejects the consumer approach to theory and the dichotomy between theory and practice that dominates SLA and language teaching. This approach is based on Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, according to which the two activities are inherently connected so that each is necessarily rooted in the other; practice is the research laboratory where the theory is tested. From the perspective of language education, this is what is meant by the ‘pedagogical imperative.’

Sociocultural Theory and the Pedagogical Imperative in L2 Education

• Elaborates a new approach to dealing with the relationship between theory and practice—an approach grounded in praxis—the dialectical unity of theory and practice

• Presents an analysis of empirical research illustrating praxis-based principles in real language classrooms

• Brings together cognitive linguistics and sociocultural theory ─ the former provides the theoretical knowledge of language required of praxis and the latter furnishes the theoretical principles of learning and development also called for in a praxis approach

• Offers recommendations for redesigning teacher education programs

Its timely focus on the theory-practice gap in language education and its original approach to bridging it put this book at the cutting edge of thinking about Vygotskian sociocultural theory in applied linguistics and SLA.


"This book’s up-to-date, detailed exposition of L2 SCT research, concepts, and pedagogical practice is certain to appeal to experienced and curious SCT researchers." —Applied Linguistics

Table of Contents




Chapter 1 Theory/Practice Gap in Applied Linguistics

Chapter 2 Sociocultural Theory and the Dialectic of Praxis: An Alternative to the Theory/Research-Practice Gap

Chapter 3 Psychology of the Social Environment

Chapter 4 A Theory of Developmental Education

Chapter 5 L2 Systemic Theoretical Instruction: Experimental-Developmental Studies

Chapter 6 L2 Systemic Theoretical Instruction: Intact Classroom Studies

Chapter 7 The Zone of Proximal Development and Dynamic Assessment

Chapter 8 Dynamic Assessment and L2 Development

Chapter 9 Conclusion


About the Authors

James P. Lantolf is the George and Jane Greer Professor in Language Acquisition and Applied Linguistics in the Department of Applied Linguistics at Penn State University, USA.

Matthew E. Poehner is Associate Professor and Program Director of the K-12 teacher certification program in World Languages Education and Applied Linguistics in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State University, USA.

About the Series

ESL & Applied Linguistics Professional Series

This series provides essential texts on teaching English as a second language and applied linguistics. It includes authored and edited volumes to be used as primary or supplementary texts in graduate-level and teacher training courses to enhance students’ and practicing teachers’ professional qualifications and knowledge. Each text is designed to promote the current and growing body of knowledge in applied linguistics and second language teaching, including advances in teacher education and the study of language.

Specifically, the series includes, but is not limited to, current uses of applied linguistics research in teaching a variety of second language skills, such as reading, writing, speaking and listening; materials and curriculum design; literacy; English for academic purposes; and research methods.

The texts also deal with broad domains of professional preparation related to socio-cultural perspectives and current issues/topics in teaching and learning a second language.

Books in the series benefit not only students, but experienced teachers, curriculum developers, teacher trainers, program administrators, and other second and foreign language professionals seeking to advance and update their knowledge and expertise.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY / English as a Second Language