This book presents a unique Introduction to Sociocultural Theory. Through the telling of fascinating stories the authors familiarize the reader with the concepts that are central to the theory and in particular to how the theory relates to the teaching and learning of languages beyond the first. It is an exceptional piece of scholarship that I think Vygotsky would have wholeheartedly endorsed. James P. Lantolf, Greer Professor in Language Acquisition & Applied Linguistics, The Pennsylvania State University, USAThis book is a most welcome addition to the growing literature on sociocultural theory. It is refreshing to come across such a reader-friendly book dealing with complex constructs. The book provides an overview of key concepts in sociocultural theory, and then, using a set of narratives, illustrates how these concepts can be used to explain phenomena in second language learning and teaching. As such, the authors have succeeded in producing an accessible and highly engaging Introduction to sociocultural theory.Neomy Storch, The University of Melbourne, AustraliaSociocultural Theory and Second Language Education is a highly recommended and worthwhile book for all those who seek to understand how sociocultural theory is entailed in teaching practice. Using narratives of teaching recounted in the voices of language learners and teachers, Swain and her co-authors bring the major concepts of Vygotsky to life in clear and accessible ways. Contributing to the conceptual analysis of each story is information on allied concepts, key studies, controversies, and discussion topics. This book is certain to be a mainstay in language teacher education programs and in courses on sociocultural theory and second language acquisition. Richard Donato, University of Pittsburgh, USAThe authors draw upon their considerable collective knowledge of SCT as well as a wealth of experience in language teaching and teacher education. The result is a book that offers a nuanced, in-depth presentation of SCT concepts and simultaneously enacts key principlesfrom the theory by 'mediating' these concepts to readers...For an introductory text, it is also noteworthy that the authors do not shy away from the more complex intricacies of the theory, including those that have stirred controversy among Vygotskian researchers...To the best of my knowledge, there is no other text, either in l 2 or general education research literatures, that offers an Introduction to SCT of this quality. Readers new to SCT will have a detailed and accessible resource that will allow them to engage with the theory and appreciate its contributions to l 2 education while those already familiar with the theory will find a sophisticated and up-to-date reference text.Matthew E. Poehner, The Pennsylvania State University in 2012 The Canadian Modern Language Review/La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes, 68, 1 (February / fevrier), 102-108In Sociocultural Theory in Second Language Education: An Introduction through Narratives, Swain, Kinnear, and Steinman have created a user-friendly text that not only scaffolds readers gently into the essential concepts of SCT, but does so in the entertaining and captivating mode of narratives...As an academic book, it breaks the mold of abstract and depersonalized information being coldly calculated and measured and explained. Instead, it invites the reader into the experiences of a first person narrative, with which we often identify, and then further invites us to reflect with one of the authors as they analyze the narrative. The book is itself a meta-mediational tool, using mainly stories as the mediational means to explain SCT concepts such as mediation. It is itself a ZPD constructing tool that I believe will stimulate much languaging and eventual appropriation. My only complaint is: Why didn't we have such a book sooner? And as I ask, I find myself languaging through my private and (imagined) collaborative dialog with others about the genesis (rediscovery) of stories by scientists as a practical, pedagogical mediational tool. Tim Murphey, Kanda University of International Studies to appear in the JALT Journal
About the Author
The authors, each from a different background, share a passion for sociocultural theory. Each author brings stories, data and experiences from her area of expertise: second language pedagogy and teacher development (Linda); elementary classroom teaching with second language and bilingual students (Penny) and teaching and research in bilingual education and second language learning (Merrill) Penny lectures at the University of Toronto. Linda is an associate professor at York University in Toronto. Merrill is a professor emeritus at OISE University of Toronto.