AuthorJohnson, Neil Howard
Committee ChairWildner-Bassett, Mary
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of this action research study is to challenge accepted practice in ESL writing with the implementation of an experimental syllabus informed by a sociocultural approach, specifically Vygotsky's (1987) assertion of the key role that awareness and control of theoretical concepts plays in cognitive development. Following Gal'perin and Davydov, the classroom approach implemented here is essentially concerned with L2 development as the internalization, appropriation and control of conceptual meaning in the context of the goal-oriented activities of teaching and learning. This research and pedagogy calls attention to the importance of the quality and sequence of instruction, in which full and explicit attention is given to an abstract conceptual framework before learners proceed to explore concrete instantiations of the abstract concepts in question.Halliday's (1978) social semiotic understanding of language, text and context was the central concept presented to a mixed ESL and native-speaking composition class, and various activities and exercises were designed in keeping with the principles guiding this 16-week research project. Learners made use of didactic models and verbalization activities, including extensive collaborative writing, as they worked with the concepts and explored the ways in which the target academic discourse reflects Halliday's theory of language in use. These concepts were then applied in the writing of research, re-writing for a new audience, and reflection papers. Writing development was tracked using T-Unit analysis, lexical density measures, rhetorical move analysis and the ratings from three expert raters, who graded the resulting papers for language use, analysis and organization. In analysis, this proficiency development is related to evidence of re-mediated thought as the students collaborate to complete the assigned writing tasks.The findings of three case studies provide general support for the implementation of concept-based instruction and a theoretical and explicit attention to requisite aspects of the target discourse in ESL writing pedagogy. There is clear evidence that the concept-based approach fosters awareness and control over relevant features of the target language necessary for successful participation in academic discourse communities.
Degree ProgramSecond Language Acquisition & Teaching