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Volume 1, Issue 2, July 2013, Page: 54-69
An Ecosystem-Wide Study of a Complex ESL Program through Activity Theory and Semiotics
Alan Wai Lun Lai, Department of Applied Psychology, Division of Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University/Hong Kong Baptist University, United International College, 28, Jinfeng Road, Tangiawan, Zhuhai, Guangdong, China
Received: Jul. 11, 2013;       Published: Aug. 10, 2013
DOI: 10.11648/j.ijll.20130102.13      View  2965      Downloads  174
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to investigate how a learning environment went about for second language (L2) learning. Drawing on an ecological perspective, this work conceives an after-school program aimed for promoting a group of secondary-school students’ L2 learning as an ecosystem or a whole that was highly complex due to interrelated layers of any contextualized details. In this context, to understand how a group of L2 learners regulated their L2 learning strategies in the environment became a complexity issue. To take on this challenge, this study turned to activity theory in terms of semiotics of signs to transforming any contextualized details – drawn from observations over 12 lessons – into an interwoven set of ecosystem-wide characteristics found relevant to L2 learning. The research focused on a group of four secondary-school students in Hong Kong, in an after-school home environment over 12 lessons, examining a range of teaching-learning activities. Data consisted of videotaping and field notes during and after each class based on a participant perspective through observations. As a result, the L2 learning environment was on the one hand described to be one where meaning-making signs were diversified and interrelated while maintaining their informational dynamism. On the other hand, active engagement, guidance-oriented regulation and activity aims were also found to function together progressively for (1) reaching specific L2 meaning-making goals closer and closer and (2) increasing opportunities for making meaningful contributions to each other’s mental understanding in L2.
Keywords
Ecological Perspective, Activity Theory, Semiotics, Second Language Learning, Complexity Management, Ecosystem
To cite this article
Alan Wai Lun Lai, An Ecosystem-Wide Study of a Complex ESL Program through Activity Theory and Semiotics, International Journal of Language and Linguistics. Vol. 1, No. 2, 2013, pp. 54-69. doi: 10.11648/j.ijll.20130102.13
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