Monday, July 11, 2016
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
"Participation"is the head noun in the phrase "Growing Participation" and "Growing" is a modifier. We didn't choose this particular phrase as the name for our approach because it had a catchy ring to it. Both "participation" and "growing" are packed with meaning, and the meanings are not the ones that might come to mind for an ordinary everyday reader encountering the phrase for the first time.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
A Little Invitation to the Growing Participator Approach
under the heading
Another peek into the GPA for blog eavesdroppers
Today I've updated that a little. It should be especially helpful to those familiar with the technical areas it alludes to so that they might get some idea of how the GPA relates to its intellectual heritage. However, it should be helpful to ordinary GPA enthusiasts too, as much of the technical vocabulary is relatively transparent, or if not, it gives the reader phrases to search for in the Internet! (And feel free to post questions in the form of comments.) It will also be good to have this little introduction near the top here for awhile rather than buried in the archives. So here it is:
Monday, March 2, 2015
Well, in terms of human interest, perhaps it is that growing participation means that real people and the GP become part of each other's lives in the sociohistorical world of the former! In "theoretical" terms, however, the most important concept is the Vygotskyan concept of "mediation": People experience the sensible world not directly, but as mediated by 1) symbols; 2) other tools/artifacts. We'll emphasize (1) here: We live not by rectangular horizontal surfaces supported on tubular objects at each corner. We live by tables! And a table is not a stol (to use an example from Russia). A table is one of countless pieces of life that make up my home languacultural world. A kitchen table is too. So is a group playing cards at it.
Since the world we experience is thus mediated by sociohistorical artifacts, ( including (1) tables, (2)the word "table" with it's phonetic substance and conceptual role, (3) people playing cards, (4) the phrase "people playing cards", etc. x 10 ^≈100), which are both socially inherited and dynamically constructed in situations (situations themselves being socially constructed mediational means) we call the meditational means "the pieces of life" (emphasizing the table) and the "story-construction pieces" (emphasizing the word "table"). With massive assistance from the auditory story-construction pieces, in early life we come to live by the sensible pieces of life, as stories--right as the experience goes by the experiencer and becomes part of his/her experience.
From this understanding that human life/experience/thought is mediated comes the GPA concepts such as languacultural worlds, home worlds, host worlds, "they stories," identity in the separate worlds, participation, growing participation itself, etc. As brand new growing participators, we function by our home-world story-construction pieces (we can't function without someone's meditational means) as we take on our very first host-world practices, for example host-world phonetic words (which are practices) with home-world conceptual roles (also practices). And on we grow, becoming ever more familiar with the host world as mediated by host words (sound and conceptual role), etc. (Rather than "conceptual role" I would like to say "discursive roles" but not as many people understand "conceptual" as understand "discursive"!)
So that was the main answer I was hoping for: Mediation. Oh well. If you put people first, then you're right and I'm wrong. But remember that a man is not a muzhchina. Over your years in Russia, the role of muzhchina's in your experience moves from that of men (or whatever your home-world symbol is) to that of muzhchina's (well, of muzhchin). But if your main thing is just about loving Russians, so expressed with our home-world word-analogue, then bravo.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Saturday, February 21, 2015
However, the cognitive dimension is secondary in the GPA to the sociocultural dimension. Communities ("cultures") use brains to construct and maintain themselves, but the brains, or at least their dispositions resulting from the moulding effects of community, are secondary to the social realities of communities. Thus, prior to cognitive processes are communities characterized by shared practices.
Here's a question: Given the primacy of the sociocultural dimension, what is the most important single concept of the GPA ?
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Recall that in the GPA grammatical cues are viewed as "hot buttons". For many people grammar is about putting the right bits into the right spots because that is what the mental "competence" grammar happens to specify, and if you want sentences to be grammatical (which is a moral imperative), you do as the grammar specifies.
We believe instead that grammatical bits (function words, affixes, word order) are cues that trigger complex processes for host listeners. Host listeners are extremely responsive to a variety of cues, from acoustic cues to lexical cues to grammatical cues. That is why we called them hot buttons.
From this perspective learning is not a matter of putting the right bit in the right places by conscious planning, which over time is replaced automatic processes. Rather it is a matter of becoming increasingly sensitive to cues (through frequent experience) until one is so sensitive that if one throws one's comprehension system a curve--say giving it contradictory or otherwise clashing cues--one's comprehension system reacts to that fact, and one tends then to modify one's speech to give the cues that one's comprehension system expects, since the utterance in question didn't sound right.
That seems pretty reasonable to me at least. It is what my dissertation was about, by the way. Recently Trenkic, Mirkovic and Altmann, 2013 observed (in the article “Real-time grammar processing by native and non-native speakers,” in _Bilingualism: Language and Cognition) “A vast body of the literature suggests that late second language learners often show inability to process L2 morphosyntactic information in a target-like manner,” (p. 1) and they add that “structures that are difficult to process in comprehension are often the same ones with which L2 users struggle in production” (ibid.). They also cite evidence that “problems in L2 production may be related to the processing strategies used in comprehension…” (p. 2) Well duh!
This is an important issue to me because as the GPA became more widely used and more popular, this became a refrain: It leads to "non-native-like grammar". Again, well duh. Nothing leads to thoroughgoing native-like (we would say "host-sounding") grammar. There are minor advantages to a certain strategy (such as form focus or correction via prompts) but it is the name of the game that people starting to learn an additional language (languaculture) as adults are quite non-host-sounding, at least for a number of years! So give us a break. I take comfort in the fact that as far as I know those on the offensive against the GPA are on the offensive simply because of its popularity in certain quarters, not because they have actually looked into what it is about!