Document Type : Research Paper

Authors

1 Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics, English Department, Shahrekord University, Shahrekord, Iran

2 Professor of ESL Education/Reading, Texas A&M University, USA,

3 Ph.D. Candidate in TEFL, English Department,, Faculty of Letters and Humanities, Shahrekord University, Shahrekord, Iran.

10.22054/ilt.2021.59815.581

Abstract

Recent second or foreign language (L2) research has shown that integration of form-focused instruction into collaborative, communicative activity is highly influential. Sociocultural theory (SCT) provides a praxis-oriented educational ecosystem wherein L2 grammatical knowledge and practical use can be effectively linked. This SCT-inspired study examined the effects of praxis-oriented grammar instruction and mediational feedback within the social media networking (SMN) platform (i.e., Telegram) on L2 learners’ microgenetic development of grammatical knowledge. Participants were 30 EFL learners that were assigned to three different instructional conditions: (i) conventional teacher-fronted instruction as the comparison group, (ii) collaborative instruction attuned to learners’ Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) in an actual classroom as the first experimental group, and (iii) ZPD-based instruction in virtual Telegram space as the second. The groups were pre- and posttested on a grammar test targeting subject-verb non-inversion in embedded WH-questions, which poses cross-linguistic challenges to Persian L2 learners of English. Collaborative whole-class, dyadic, or triadic talk-in-interactional activities were employed to engage learners in co-constructing educational praxis and providing contingent, ZPD-sensitive graduated mediation in both virtual and face-to-face settings. The results indicated that the two ZPD groups outperformed the comparison group. No significant difference was, however, found between the ZPD groups despite witnessing a developmental trend in favor of the virtual SMN setting. Post-intervention interviews revealed learners’ positive attitudes towards using Telegram affordances for praxis-oriented grammar instruction. Further theoretical and pedagogical implications are discussed.

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