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Scaffolding,[1][2][3] is the way “teachers or peers supply students with the tools they need in order to learn” (Jacobs, 2001).[4]

Although the concept is originally based on Lev Vygotsky’s work on the zone of proximal development (ZPD),[5] the term "scaffolding" was coined by Wood, Bruner and Ross [6] regarding children’s linguistic performance, and later by Cazden (1983), who adopted Bruner’s use of the term, extending it to refer to "vertical scaffolding" (the adult extending the child’s language by asking further questions), based on the "vertical constructions" of Scollon (1976),[1] and "sequential scaffolding" (playing games with children at mealtimes, bath times, etc.).[3]

Instructional scaffolding[edit | edit source]

Applebee and Langer (1983) went on to describe the essential aspects of formal learning as "instructional scaffolding", that is, the language learner’s process of internalization from the social and cultural context, which Lehr (1985) later described as a "technique in which the teacher initially provides a relatively high degree of verbal structure" - the scaffolding - and then "gradually withdraws" the scaffolding "as students become increasingly capable of building conceptual edifices on their own".[7]

Thus, through modelling, the language learner is assisted by a more skilled language user (the teacher) who models the language task to be used, both verbally and in writing.[3] As well as supporting and encouraging the learner, the teacher elicits the learner’s acquired knowledge until the learner is able to use the language and generalise it and the scaffolding can be "taken away".

Applebee sets out five criteria for effective scaffolding:[3][7]

  • 1. Student ownership of the learning event. The tasks should be designed to allow students to make their own contribution to the activity as it evolves.
  • 2. Appropriateness of the instructional task. The tasks should build upon the knowledge and skills the students' have already acquired, but should be difficult enough to allow for new learning to take place.
  • 3. A structured learning environment. In order for the student to make full use of the strategies and approaches presented by the task, a natural sequence of thought and language must be provided.
  • 4. Shared responsibility. The role of the teacher should be collaborative rather than evaluative, i.e. tasks are to be solved jointly.
  • 5. Transfer of control. As they internalize the new procedures and routine, i.e. become more competent, the students should take on greater responsibility for controlling the progress of the task.

Conversational scaffolding[edit | edit source]

Following on from Hatch (1978), who suggested that "language learning evolves out of learning how to carry on conversations",[8] Long and Sato (1984) consider "conversational scaffolding" as the "crucible of language acquisition".[3]

Interactional Scaffolding[edit | edit source]

Interactional scaffolding is the modification of student-directed speech ("teacher-talk") similar to child-directed speech (Lightbrown, Spada, 2006: 21).

Teacher-talk includes:

  • slower rate of delivery
  • higher pitch
  • more varied intonation
  • shorter, simpler sentence patterns
  • stress on keywords
  • frequent repetition
  • paraphrasing

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Cazden, Courtney B. Whole language plus: essays on literacy in the United States and New Zealand at Google Books
  2. Coombs, et al. "Improving personal learning through critical thinking scaffolds"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Foley, J. "Scaffolding" ELT Journal
  4. Jacobs, G. (2001) "Providing the Scaffold: A Model for Early Childhood/Primary Teacher Preparation". Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol 29:2, pp. 125-130; cited in Verenikina, Irina. "Understanding Scaffolding and the ZPD in Educational Research"
  5. De Bot, Kees; Lowie, Wander; Verspoor, Marjolyn Second language acquisition: an advanced resource book at Google Books
  6. Wood, D., Bruner, J. & Ross, G. (1976) "The Role Of Tutoring In Problem Solving", Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 17, pp. 89-100 (1978) cited in Verenikina, Irina. "Understanding Scaffolding and the ZPD in Educational Research"
  7. 7.0 7.1 Flood, J. Handbook of research on teaching the English language arts at Google Books
  8. Long, Michael H. Problems in SLA at Google Books

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]