Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture and Education 2018

“And, so, Where Do You Stand?” Engaging Students in Academic Discussion

Nathan P. Krug

Saitama University, Japan


Active learner participation in the language classroom engages students, adds interest and builds language skills. How, then, can teachers encourage dialogue and open discussion within the language classroom? This paper outlines the use of scaffolding to bolster small-group discussion for second-language learners of English. The notion of scaffolding is based on the work of Vygotsky (1978, 1987). Vygotsky maintained that learning takes place as we engage with peers and more knowledgeable people. In a nutshell, this paper describes pre-planned, designed-in support, leading learners to Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), and it stresses the need for teacherreadiness, or contingent support, both of which are crucial for active learner engagement in the discussion-based classroom. Even reserved students can and will discuss assorted topics and issues if appropriate scaffolding assists them to excel. Although based on work with undergraduate students attending university in Japan, this approach has practical applications for a wide range of language classrooms, especially those second-language classrooms that seek to enhance dialogue and open discussion in the academic context.


Academic Discussion, Collaborative Dialogue, Scaffolding, ZPD