James P. Lantolf

Professor James P. Lantolf earned his Ph.D. in Linguistics The Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA in 1974. He is currently George and Jane Greer Professor Emeritus of Language Acquisition and Applied Linguistics, Director of the Center for Language Acquisition, and Co-director of Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research at this University. His research focuses on sociocultural theory and second language learning and teaching, cultural-historical psychology. He has published prolifically: Lantolf, J. P., & Poehner, M. E. (2014). Sociocultural theory and the pedagogical imperative in L2 education. Vygotskian praxis and the theory/practice divide. New York: Routledge; Lantolf, J. P., & Poehner, M. E. (Eds.). (2008); Sociocultural theory and the teaching of second languages. London: Equinox; Lantolf, J. P., & Thorne, S. L. (2006); Sociocultural theory and the genesis of second language development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.; Lantolf, J. P., & Poehner, M. E. (2011); Dynamic assessment in the classroom: Vygotskian praxis for L2 development. Language Teaching Research, 15, 11-33; and Ableeva, R., & Lantolf, J. P. (2011); Mediated dialogue and the microgenesis of second language listening comprehension. Assessment in Education, 18, 133-149; and Poehner, M. E., & Lantolf, J. P. (2010). Vygotsky’s teaching-assessment dialectic and L2 education: The case for dynamic assessment. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 17, 312-330.

Crisis in SLA: Cognitive ~ Social Divide and What to Do About It

Featured Presentation

In this presentation I will outline what I consider to be a crisis on Second Language Studies (SLS) regarding the relationship between the so-called cognitive orientation and the role of social factors in understanding the process of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). The core of the crisis, as I see it, is that researchers are struggling with the problem of how to interrelate what they perceive to be dichotomous components that play a role in the acquisition process. Those supporting a cognitive orientation believe that key to understanding SLA resides in the mind/brain of individuals, while those supporting a social orientation argue for integrating, in some way, the influence of social activity into the process. Various proposals have been suggested by researchers for how to overcome the dichotomy. I will review some of these in the presentation before offering what I consider to be a potential solution to the problem—one grounded in Vygotsky’s theory of general psychology. As a general theory designed to account for human psychological development and functioning, it must be able to explain a process such as second language development and functioning within its overall framework.