Sociocultural theory

These last weeks I have been a bit more relaxed since I haven’t had  classes to teach (eastern break), so it is the ideal time to read, think and write. All the time to focus on my PhD. But what happens? I check my notes, my calendar, my post its, my emails with the things that I have written to be done in these weeks: and it is an ocean, a huge sea with no horizon. Yeah,I know, another way of procrastination. And to make things worse, I caught a cold which has made me feel miserable.

After evading the inevitable, I started tackling one crucial aspect of my research: sociocultural theory. Though I wrote on my research proposal that my investigation would analyse EFL teacher education with a sociocultural lens, and I explained that this view would allow me to understand the complexities of this activity, I still know very little about sociocultural theory. In doing the literature review of my research in the area of  second language teacher education, authors such as a Freeman, Johnson and Cross mentioned Vygotsky’s work and  suggested that sociocultural theory as a sound framework to study second language teacher education.  Furthermore, Johnson (2009) advocates for sociocultural theory as the epistemological underpinnings of L2 teacher education. This book inspired my research and thoughts.

After reading Johnson’s  book, I  converted. Therefore, I got into  sociocultural theory and delved into the literature about it. I started with Vygotsky’s Mind in society. I continued with   Leontev and Luria and kept on my readings with several papers and other books which have interpreted Vygotsky’s work. One prominent follower has been Engestrom whose work on Activity theory ( a theory which derived from Vygotsky’s ? ) is impressive. In the field of second language , James Lantolf ‘s contribution is inmense and in the case of teacher education, Viv Ellis, Ann Edwards and H. Daniels have done research in this field.

I will stop procrasting and I’ll continue with my readings now. I need to understand sociocultural theory and its different shifts and prespectives.


About Malba Barahona

Educational researcher, language educator. PhD from Australian National University. Passionate bushwalker and mountain lover. I procrastinate reading fiction, hiking, doing yoga, riding, having a beer and more recently decolonizing my existence. I write in English and Spanish in different blogs especially with the purpose of encouraging my students to write.


  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for your blog. I too, am studying sociocultural theory as part of my research paper in the importance of cultural traditions in children’s cognitive development.

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