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The Development of Spanish Aspect in the Second Language Classroom: Concept-Based Pedagogy and Dynamic Assessment

The main objective of this case-study research is to document the learning and potential development of Spanish aspect by a female multilingual learner of Spanish, Judith, during her second year of study in an SLA classroom context at a university in Northeastern United States over a two semester (one year) period. This research also examines the specific classroom context in which this learner's development was documented. The second objective is therefore to document the extent to which this approach mediated potential grammatical development in Judith, particularly in her conceptual understandings of Spanish aspect. A Vygotskyan-inspired concept-based pedagogy (CBP) (Gal'Perin, 1989, 1992; Negueruela, 2003; Negueruela and Lantolf, 2006; Negueruela, 2008) and dynamic assessment (DA) procedures (Poehner and Lantolf, 2005;, Lantolf & Thorne, 2006; Poehner, 2008), both based on Sociocultural Theory (Vygotsky 1978, 1986) were implemented to teach Spanish to learners. The quality of the new meanings being developed by Judith was documented over time under this particular concept-based teaching context. Data was collected in order to capture the personal histories and orientations to different contexts and activities for this research participant. A combination of insights from Spradley (1980) and Emerson (1995) on ethnographic records was used in order to document the social learning situation taking place in the classroom. It included a combination of artifacts such as field notes, teaching artifacts, tape-recorded interviews, and oral and written discourse from Judith. To analyze how the research participant developed the concept of Spanish aspect (preterit versus imperfect), I used the SCOBA (Schema for Complete Orienting Basis of Action) that was developed by Negueruela (2003) for L2 learning of Spanish. I also used Poehner (2008) and Bloome et al. (2008)'s perspective on data analysis to examine the meaning-making of the L2 learner participant in interaction while she was using the artifacts and interacting with her peers and me, the instructor and investigator. This combination of ethnographic and CBI tools aims at providing a richer picture of this multilingual learner's development over time that would reflect the complexity and dynamic nature of language learning and development (as suggested by Van Lier, 2004).