Demonized Learners in Sociocultural Theory

Joanna Chen


Within the frameworks of Sociocultural theory, particularly Vygotskian sociocultural theory and ZPD, Lave and Wenger’s CoP, and contemporary sociocultural theory, this paper seeks to examine the unfavourable scholarly portrayal of learners and their identities based on learners’ behaviours, attitudes, and beliefs about the social element of learning, particularly non-mainstream, non-normative behaviours. Such behaviours may be, to the learner, salient accompanying identity traits that were celebrated in one context but demonized in another. While learners have a degree of agency in subsequent critical, even hostile, settings, often this demonization leads to a degree of withdrawal, a retreat to grassroots rather than the mainstream, and a perpetration of accepted student norms. The deconstruction and critique of the ‘Good Language Learner’ gives insight into dominant discourses and metanarratives.  Further to this, we see implications of these academic discourses on practitioners, especially for Asian English language teachers, as well as recommendations.

Keywords: Sociocultural theory, dominant, non-mainstream, Good Language Learner, metanarratives, social setting

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