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Reviewed by:
  • Sociocognitive Perspectives on Language Use and Language Learning
  • Eduardo Negueruela-Azarola
R. Batstone (Ed.) (2010). Sociocognitive Perspectives on Language Use and Language Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 224, US$33.95 (paper).

Rob Batstone's edited volume is a valuable resource for exploring the connection between social and cognitive factors in second language acquisition (SLA). Chapters in this volume argue that social and cognitive factors are not two different phenomena but two sides of the same phenomenon. The volume will help readers appreciate the variety of paradigms (sociocognition, complexity theory, varionist, socialization, communities of practice, and sociocultural theory) that are already working from a sociocognitive perspective in SLA. Most chapters are written by well-known scholars in SLA. Each chapter argues for the critical importance of dissolving the artificial distinction between social and cognitive factors when studying the process of second language (L2) learning in formal and non-formal educational settings. Unfortunately, the object of study in SLA research has been parsed into two unrelated sides by most SLA theories: either exclusively cognition or exclusively the social component of learning a language.

The book is divided into three parts. Part One is composed of four chapters that focus on the failure in the field of SLA to address the interdependence of social and cognitive factors from a theoretical perspective. In chapter 1, Batstone provides an overview of the recent history of sociocognitive approaches to SLA. He argues that current research divides sociocognition in holistic and analytical approaches. Holistic approaches understand that there is no possible separation between social and cognitive factors in research. Analytic sociocognition distinguishes the social from the cognitive for analytical research purposes. In chapter 2, Atkinson looks at attention as a fundamental sociocognitive phenomenon. In chapter 3, Larsen-Freeman explains how chaos/complexity theory is an adequate lens through which to understand the connection between social and cognitive factors, which are connected in a dynamic and adaptive fashion. In chapter 4, Tarone argues that the social setting is critical in understanding input, output, and rate and routes of acquisition. These first four chapters are a superb introduction to sociocognition and SLA theorizing.

The second part of the book examines how social context is critical in shaping thinking processes. In chapter 5, Duff and Kobayashi investigate socialization and L2 learning and how social, cultural, and cognitive factors interplay in language learning for Japanese international students in Canada. In chapter 6, Yates, Nicholas, and de Courcy use structured and semi-structured tasks to document language development of Shia refugees from Iraq in Australia. In chapter 7, Swain [End Page 239] argues that the use of language functions as a critical cognitive tool. Swain argues that engaging in verbalization helps learners focus and internalize complex grammatical concepts, such as voice in French. In chapter 8, to understand the complex grammatical notion of aspect, Lantolf documents how learners talk and gesture to themselves. These last two chapters, working from a Vygotskyan perspective, illustrate how thinking is a social process mediated by meaning-making resources that have a cognitive function. Promoting mediated thinking is then critical for language learning. The significance of sociocultural research in SLA from a sociocognitive perspective is that the unity of social and cognitive factors is recognized at all levels: theory building, research methodology, and pedagogical practice.

The third part of the volume centres on L2 classroom-based research. In chapter 9, Ellis discusses corrective feedback in the classroom and argues that sociocultural theory is the only paradigm able to account for cognitive, social, and psychological components of feedback. In chapter 10, Storch and Wiggesworth look at teachers' feedback on writing. Using both a quantitative and qualitative analysis, they conclude that internalization in their study occurred when feedback was coherent with learners' goals and beliefs. Using sociocultural insights, they argue that uptake may also be goal-directed. In chapter 11, using data from an L2 Spanish study, Toth argues that shared understanding as cohesion is the key to the effectiveness of corrective moves. In chapter 12, Philp and Mackey argue that interactions in French university classrooms are mediated by social relationships, perceptions, and expectations.

To conclude, the volume will be a valuable resource for researchers...


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pp. 239-240
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