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Perezhivanie as a new perspective on second language acquisition and its research

3.1 Farther reaches of theoretical and methodological explorations
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
2:00 PM, Thursday 31 Aug 2017 (30 minutes)
Historically, the “sociocultural approach” to second language acquisition (SLA) research has been rooted in the cultural-historical concepts of mediation, internalization, the Zone of Proximal Development, private speech, and more recently, dynamic assessment. As researchers become increasingly aware of Vygotsky’s concept of perezhivanie, developed in the last years of his life as part of a new understanding of consciousness as a dynamic, semantic system, it also becomes necessary to carefully discern the place of this concept within the sociocultural approach, especially given its current under-usage. That is, to understand its consequences, entailments, and limitations at every level of the research process, and to understand its current and possible interpretations within the existing theoretical context of sociocultural SLA (and SLA more generally). It is only through such an understanding that the full potential of the concept can be further developed and realised. Therefore, this paper discusses the contributions of the perezhivanie concept to the field of SLA research in a number of areas. First, I discuss its use by researchers as a response to a latent need to understand the role of emotion in learning and development, and the extent to which this has shaped the interpretation of perezhivanie in SLA. Second, I examine the implied methodological imperative for holistic analysis by-units rather than by elements, which also broadens the scope of research beyond that delimited by the concepts of mediation, ZPD, and private speech that define the current sociocultural approach. Finally, I examine new metamethodological possibilities of the concept for understanding the practice of observational and narrative methodologies by which the perezhivanie of learners is typically made visible for analysis. The concept, I argue, is useful not only for understanding the relationship between learner and environment, but also for understanding the generation and interpretation of perezhivanie data itself. This closer examination of the place of perezhivanie in the theoretical repertoire of sociocultural-SLA helps to clarify some of its potential contributions to the field.
Monash University
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