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The Sociocultural Theory Module for Second Language Acquisition

written by: Faye Angeli Vitan • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 8/2/2012

The sociocultural theory, a second language acquisition theory module, proposes that second language can be acquired through social interactions. Language teachers should be able to provide activities that would allow students to socialize and interact.

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    Learning Through Interaction

    The essence of language is to be able to communicate one's thoughts and feelings to another person. This concept of communication is one of the foundations of sociocultural theory in language learning, which is one of the second language acquisition theory modules. The sociocultural theory believes that language can be acquired by allowing the students to socialize and interact either with other learners or with the speakers of the language they are learning. The interaction should also be within the context of the language being learned. Ideally, the sociocultural theory suggests that the best way to acquire a language is to learn it from the place it is being used and to interact with native speakers. In the context of the classroom, the sociocultural theory in second language acquisition can be practiced through social activities that simulate the cultural context of the language.

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    Interactive Activities

    Aside from the classic role playing, here are some activities for strengthening the communication skills of second language learners based on the sociocultural theory:

    1. Shared Story Telling

    In this activity, the teacher will present a set of related pictures that tells a story. In groups of 4 to 5, the learners would have to construct a story by describing what they see in the pictures. Each member of the group must be have an assigned picture that he will connect to the other pictures. Depending on their level, they can add dialogues and characters. This activity can also be used in retelling a story taken up in class.

    2. Think-Aloud

    Give the learners a situation in which they have to make decisions or choose options. While they are deciding on what to do with the situation given to them, they spontaneously say out loud the things that go on in their mind. They must be able to have a resolution at the end. Allot a specific period of time for this activity. For example, a learner must be able to decide within 2 minutes on whether he will attend a party of a person he doesn't like. The situations must be realistic and within the experience of the learners. The purpose of this activity is for the learners to think in the language they are acquiring and make it automatic to them. This will also help them see that communication is not only with other people but also with oneself.

    3. Language Date

    Arrange a day in which students can meet up with native speakers who will serve as their company for the day. The learner and the native speaker must arrange some activities they can do together like dining out, shopping, playing some sports. The native speaker must not be able to understand the learner's native language. This way, the learner will be forced to speak the language he/ she is learning. At the same time, this will also expose the students to the use of language in an authentic situation.