Conference Papers

A Peirce - Vygotskian approach to the modality of second language education

Over the past two decades, research within applied linguistics has brought to prominence the role of social mediation in learners’ internalisation of cognitive strategies relating to communicative activities, thus developing the implications of sociocultural theory for second language acquisition (e.g., Lantolf, 2000; Lantolf & Poehner, 2011; Lantolf & Thorne, 2006; Swain, 2000). However, given the ever-changing landscape of human interactions, a more nuanced understanding of multimodal communication and representation is arguably called for. Approaches to second language acquisition would thus need to move beyond the role of linguistic semiosis, as language is increasingly in its most productive sense, embracing an entire range of semiotic resources. Whilst scholarship has begun to dovetail the notion of multimodality with language and education, there would be a need to further theorise how the reality status is perceived through various modes of meaning and how the acts of meaning take place within an individual and between individuals.
Forging ahead with “semiotic philosophy as educational foundation” (Stables & Semetsky, 2014), this presentation explores new vistas for second language education. For example, a new dimension for research may be initiated, focusing on the relational function of modality in terms of “intramodality” (modes of meaning within an individual) and “intermodality” (modes of meaning between individuals). Given a second-language speaker’s act of meaning being induced by either the target-language, the first-language or the interplay of the two languages, he/she can experience a dialectics of thesis and antithesis cognitively and emotionally. This is a little-explored area within second language education. Informed by the co-articulation of Peirce and Vygotsky (Ma, 2014), the
presentation offers a detailed account of the Peirce-Vygotsky confluence for research into the modality of second language education, albeit a nascent step towards bringing such confluence into fruition.
Ma, J. (2015) 'A Peirce - Vygotskian approach to the modality of second language education', paper presented to The 11th Annual Conference of the British Education Studies Association (BESA), 25–26 June, viewed 08 August 2020, <>