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Learning, Culture and Social Interaction xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Learning, Culture and Social Interaction
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/lcsi
Full length article
Becoming professional through dialogical learning: How language
activity shapes and (re-) organizes the dialogical self's voicings and
positions
Marie-Cécile Bertaua,⁎, Andrea Turesb
a
b
University of West Georgia, USA
University of Gießen, Germany
AR TI CLE I NF O
AB S T R A CT
Keywords:
Dialogical learning
Dialogical self
Language activity
Voicings
Professional development
Early childhood education
Combining cultural-historical and dialogical theoretical approaches, we understand language and
the self as dialogically related dynamic phenomena. Learning is a dialogic activity shaped by language activity. The specific forms of language that learning activity takes are at the core of our
research, leading to a form sensitive concept of professional development. It addresses societal
contexts and others as formative and highlights voicings as concrete forms experienced by learning
subjects, traceable in the dialogues on the subject's activity. The case study presents the learning
activities of early childhood education (ECE) students and teachers within university level training.
Video stimulated reflection and interviews were taken as qualitative research strategies to investigate the positioning processes within the dialogical self of students reflecting on their pedagogical practices. With the “Teacher Interaction and Language Rating Scale” (Girolametto et al.,
2000) we measured the interaction quality of the language activities in the classroom. The results
illustrate the powerful dynamics of the dialogical learning activity: the kind of voicings emerging
within the process of acquiring a ‘professional self’ and their effects on the self-transformative
learning process. The ambivalence within learners' self is demonstrated, pointing to a genetic relationship between self-reflective and social positionings within the ECE community.
1. Introduction
The focal point of the following considerations is language. Viewed in accordance with von Humboldt (1999) language is energeia,
an activity. Language is thus not resulting into speech or discourse in a second step, it is rather the concretely occurring symbolic
process, “language activity” in this sense. Worth to note, Humboldt's philosophy of language is the source of both Russian dialogism
(Jakubinskij, Bakhtin, Vološinov) and early Soviet language psychology (Vygotsky, Luria, Galperin), that highlight semiotic mediation (Bertau, 2014a). Bringing these strands together, semiotic mediation takes a concrete tangible form, which is precisely language as a dialogic and performed-experienced event between partners. Starting with these two strands, Soviet dialogism and cultural-historical language psychology, our approach adds contemporary Dialogical Self Theory (Hermans & Gieser, 2012): We assume
semiotic mediation and socio-psychological processes, in particular the self's dialogicality, to be formed and further shaped by
language activity. These processes hence always take concrete, living and embodied forms in socio-cultural life situations.
First, we introduce our theoretical framework for dialogical learning, which leads to specific methodological consequences for our
study. Proceeding in this way reflects our view that theory and empirical studies are dialogically related and lead into practice,
⁎
Corresponding author at: Department of Psychology, 1601 Maple Street, Carrollton, GA 30118, USA.
E-mail address: mbertau@westga.edu (M.-C. Bertau).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lcsi.2017.10.005
Received 4 October 2017; Accepted 12 October 2017
2210-6561/ © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Please cite this article as: Bertau, M.-C., Learning, Culture and Social Interaction (2017),
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lcsi.2017.10.005
Learning, Culture and Social Interaction xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
M.-C. Bertau, A. Tures
which, in turn, responds to and questions the theory, the methodological decisions taken and empirical findings. Practice (of future
educators, in our case) is not “a colony of theory” (Vygotsky, 1997, 305), neither is theory an effort made useless by empirical data:
no colonies or margins, but a holistic research practice closely interrelating different kinds of activities.
2. Theoretical framework
2.1. Synthesizing the “Psycholinguistics of Alterity”
Our theoretical framework is drawn from the “Psycholinguistics of Alterity” (Bertau, 2011a,b), a cultural-historical and dialogical
formulation of psycholinguistics. This “theory of speaking-and-thinking” reclaims the formative function of language for communicative and psychological processes. Its aim is to re-establish language as a genuinely psychological object emancipated from its
prevalent incorporation into cognitive psychology, which accounts for language only as a second step for inner cognitive processes. In
accordance with kindred frameworks in psychology, linguistics and philosophy, a constitutive and holistic approach to the language
phenomenon is advocated, including the dimensions of the living, acting body, and otherness.
We provide here a succinct synthesis of this framework, touching upon the notion of language, two principle types of language
activity, and on the idea of “traveling” language forms.
2.1.1. Genetic and dialogical view on language
Our starting point follows Vygotsky's (1987) proposal that language plays a constitutive role in the genesis of human phenomena: It is
the medium of our principally mediated activity. Language is an incessant movement of interiorization-exteriorization, by which the
individual is socialized and the social is individualized, resulting in a constant mutual formation. This basic movement leads to selfformation and higher psychological functions; it leads to what we understand as an individual: a unique, deeply social and culturalhistorical being. For the community of practice to which the individual belongs from the start, this movement leads to crystallizing
enacted verbal forms into diverse socioculturally specific functional language gestalts (Jakubinskij, 1979) and genres (Bakhtin, 1986);
these forms are public practices and usages, which are constantly re-negotiated, re-established and also altered by their performance, i.e.
concrete speech. The genetic relationship links one's own language activity to others' language activity, hence any concrete speech event
has its history in terms of how it actually enacts and realizes the link between individual and social language activity.
A second main point is given by dialogicality and addressivity as key terms to a dialogical epistemology (see e.g. Linell, 2009).
These terms link back to grounding alterity (otherness), viewing the Other's address as constitutive for a self's development and
existence (Bertau, 2013). Otherness comes to be a relational movement that constitutes related and reciprocal positions: Self to Other
– Other to Self. This movement takes the concretely experienced form that we see in language activity (the movement can take other
forms in other kinds of activities, as in music, dance, collaborative work). Language is thus a relational-dialogical activity that exists
only as acts of addressed speech, seeking for a reply (Bakhtin, 1986; Jakubinskij, 1979; von Humboldt, 1999). Each utterance is a
socially situated reply addressed to a particular other and to actual as well as inner social audiences (Bertau, 2004; Vološinov, 1986).
Further, the social address to another and to an audience generates a level that goes beyond the actual interlocutor(s) and indicates a
common field of language practice as a preferred way of “doing language” linked to a specific moral order. Self, Other and Audience
constitute thus the grounding field of language activity.
Taking these core ideas together, the genetic and dialogic approach to language highlights a temporal and “multi-addressive”
movement forming the triad of Self, Other and Audience, which can be observed micro-genetically.
2.1.2. Two principle types of language activity
The verbal sign is not only social, it also reversible (Vygotsky, 1999). One is able to reproduce others' words or utterances for
oneself, one diverts others' words, so to speak, and takes them as resource for one's psychological development (Bertau, 2008). As the
verbal sign becomes reversible, it determines one's activities: verbal signs (utterances) become part of thinking and consciousness and
re-enter subsequent social language activities.
Following the reversible character of the linguistic sign, two principal types of verbal performance can be deduced corresponding
to grounding life situations of self-other related individuals, even though they are culturally modulated: with, or without an actual
present Other. We term the first one “social language activity”, the second one “individual language activity” and briefly note that
there are transitional forms between these two types of language activities (such as speaking to oneself in the presence of another
person, who only overhears one's words, but could intervene). These types of language usages are termed according to their functionality for individuals, not in terms of a doubtful location (“inner/outer speech”) (Bertau, 2011a,b; Bertau & Karsten, 2017).
2.1.3. Traveling language forms between space-times of language
Starting with language as dialogic activity, we focus this activity as a sensorial-symbolic performance across time, displaying
certain forms. We propose the term “spacetime of language” for this specific configuration. The spacetime of language is specifically
emerging and developing “in-between” verbally interacting persons (Bertau, 2014b). This in-between is informed by the flow of time,
it is generated and altered by the multiple language activities performed by the partners, and it is experienced by these partners
through the verbal-vocal-bodily forms they dialogically enact. It can be described as a moving and wandering of interdependently
emerging embodied language forms across times – spoken words with specific tones of voice, possibly entrenched to functional
language gestalts and genres Within this sensible spacetime, partners touch and affect each other by their voicings and wordings,
which are shaped by the dynamically changing positionings and kinds of address of the partners.
2
Learning, Culture and Social Interaction xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
M.-C. Bertau, A. Tures
Our notion of form highlights the dynamic characteristic of form, as well as its “own value” vis-à-vis the meaning: a value, which
links the utterance to its social-situational, non-verbal reality. Form is contact to reality, it is in the form of an utterance that
positionings and voices of speakers and of their community meet and interfere (Friedrich, 1993; Vološinov, 1983a,b). Form produces
that relation to reality, its effect is hence to relate verbal meaning and the situation of its producing. The meaning's completion
involves importantly listening Other(s) and an audience. Take the following example: The form of a child's utterance to ask her
teacher for a pencil in class produces a specific contact to this specific reality, and this is a different kind of contact than the form
uttered in asking her peer sitting next to her, outside of the class' and the teacher's listening. Finally, to the extent that a verbal form is
a sensory event, voice belongs inherently to it, both as perspective the speaker expresses, and as audible, embodied phenomenon.
Indeed, voice has a psycho-physical double nature, it is an individual and a socio-cultural phenomenon (Bertau, 2008). It is in this
perspective that verbal forms constitute an important point of entry for the investigation of ongoing dialogical processes.
Because of their phenomenal character, forms have a kind of stability that allows for their “traveling” across language spacetimes,
including same or different speaker(s) in same or different situations, and with regard to diachronic and synchronic scales. This is
particularly interesting with regard to the two types of language activity mentioned above. Wertsch (1991) has for instance shown
how verbal forms of a mother “travel” to her child: We can witness here a re-invoicement (Dore, 2006) of what was previously said by
the other that is “faithful” to its form in terms of words chosen and qualities of voicings performed.
By the traveling of the forms, several, possibly quite different, spacetimes of language can be related to each other, whether by
purpose (rhetorically), or implicitly. It can be assumed that the traveling of forms across spacetimes of language is an important
device in language acquisition, through repetitions, and reformulations by same and different speakers (Clark & Chouinard, 2000),
and through variations and abbreviations (Lyra, 2012) commonly established by the partners. The same can be postulated for
learning processes in educational settings that occur through specific dialogic forms and entail acquiring new forms of “languaging”:
Here, too, enacted, voiced language forms are passed through speakers and situations, providing a crucial means to learning
(Skidmore & Murakami, 2016).
2.2. Dialogic learning
The core moment in dialogic learning is given for us by the concise description von Humboldt (1999) gives of address and reply
connecting speaking and thinking.1 The whole movement manifests for Humboldt the “unchangeable dualism” of language, i.e. its foundation
in address and reply, and makes evident the Other as necessary condition for any speaking and for any clear, articulated thinking.
Following von Humboldt (1999), a concept is generated by tearing it off the “moving mass of conception”. The concept formed by
this first separation is then exteriorized, i.e. uttered to a listening and replying Other. The thinking subject now perceives (hears) her
concept outwardly and comes to an outward position to it: this is the second separation. Hence, speaking has a clarifying and socializing effect on thinking, and the Other's re-addressed reply is necessary for understanding what one thinks. This idea can be
followed in Vološinov's concept of understanding as being “active” and constituting “the germ of a response” as the listener tries to
“match the speaker's word with a counter word” (1986, 102, italics in the original). Further, exteriorization as objectification occurs in
perceivable verbal forms, owing thoughts stability and communicability, and enabling further thinking. By these forms both partners
are in contact to their community of language practices, calling them into their thinking-understanding.
Heteroglossia is a notion, which points precisely to that contact. It means that any utterance exists within the tension between the
voices of the social diversity of speech types and the individual voices (Bakhtin, 1981, 263). There happens a principal appropriation
of words, which is not easy, “many words stubborn resist, others remain alien, sound foreign in the mouth of the one who appropriated them” (Bakhtin, 1981, 294); our speech is hence “filled with others' words, varying degrees of otherness or varying degrees of
‘our-own-ness’” (Bakhtin, 1986, 89). The principal process of speaking-understanding leads from the others' and this particular other's
words through ventriloquizing to one's own words, filled with own intentions, voiced and positioned by oneself. Finding one's
individual voice within social (dominant) voices is a key endeavor in learning, it is a struggle entailing different kinds of voices in
dialogue, from which one's own can emerge as active response position. In education it can even be effective to provoke ventriloquizing as a means for appropriation, to lend the other one's voicing and elicit re-invoicements.
Summing up, Humboldt's speaking-and-thinking via the Other is to be conceived in terms of positions and voices. The partners are
dialogical, polyphonic selves, their speaking-and-thinking is “heteroglotic”; in this vein, we assume that their learning is formed
within positioned voicings, manifesting oscillations between different individual and diverse social voices. These movements between
voices during a learning process will be illustrated in our case study.
2.3. Methodological considerations
How can this theoretical framework be applied to study learning in the field of professional development? Three key principles
have to be methodologically considered. Firstly, the dialogicality and addressivity of social and individual language activity – and
hence of learning – emphasizes the relatedness of individual learners. It highlights the necessity of the other for professional development. Therefore, alterity is neither optional nor related to social language activity only. From this theoretical stance the professional development of an individual starts by being addressed by the other.
1
Humboldt developed this idea in his talk On the Dual in 1827 (von Humboldt, 1994). An analog passage can be found in the Collected Works, which corresponds to
§9 of the English translation from 1999.
3
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Secondly, from the alterity based genetic relationship between the types of language activity, one can infer two genetically related
types of learning activity: social and individual. Within this framework the other plays a key role in the individual learning process:
We pointed out that this genetic relationship links one's own language activity to others' language activity. In other words, learning is
always taking place within dynamic dialogical structures, which are initiated by an affiliated other. Our framework does not only
stress the importance of social dialogue as a tool of professional development, it rather aims to address individual psychological
(“internal”) structures of the learner as still dialogical and based on addressivity. This changes the role of the learning partners within
professional development: they become an important resource not only for the social learning activity but for the individual learning
activity as well, if their view points are internalized by the learner. Through empirical investigation we aim to trace this process.
Hence, one has to investigate how the positionings of the other during social language activity transform into positionings for the
dialogical self of the individual learner. The potential of the social, present other during professional development has to be analyzed
in relation to its potential for the individual learning activity.
Thirdly, emphasizing traveling language forms between spacetimes of language highlights the process and specific form of
professional development: Professional learning within this framework is a language activity. The specific form of this activity is
constitutive and has to be investigated in relation to its functionality for the particular language activity under investigation. Hence,
we view professional development in terms of its specific form, dialogicality and multi-voicedness: the transformed position of the
social other occurs as voicing in the learner's self. Since we view learning and professional development as a transformational process,
I-positions (Hermans, 2001) are constantly changed and further developed through language activity – either within the individual
through the dialogue of various I-positions or within dialogue between teacher and student who are both present in the classroom.
This alterity-based paradigm leads to a research strategy that is based on a process-oriented approach to capture transformations
occurring through learning activity. It is conducted from a genetic perspective linking the two types of learning activity and aims to
gain an insight into the individual learner's dialogical self (Tures, 2014, 2015); it uses naturalistic and ethnographic strategies of
analysis (Deppermann, 2000) to shed light towards the specific language form of the learning activity; finally, it is conducted as
action research (Herr & Anderson, 2005), which designs the researcher as an explicit part of the research setting.2
3. Empirical study
3.1. Field of research
Empirical data was collected within a German university classroom over the course of one semester to investigate the professional
development of 25 students pursuing degrees in early childhood education and care (ECEC) within the theoretical framework of
Psycholinguistics of Alterity (Bertau, 2011a,b, 2014b). Case studies of 6 students within this classroom were conducted based on a
qualitative sampling strategy to systematically investigate different types of students within this classroom. Our study (Tures, 2014)
is situated within the current international and German debate about quality in ECEC. Recent studies suggest that only 11% of the
German day care centers offer a high quality provision for young children. The curriculum area of language and literacy plays a key
role in these finding (Tietze et al., 2012). A major focus of the current debate about quality of day care in early childhood research is
on the role of professional development for child care providers. In order to provide better quality in the field of ECEC and care more
than a 100 university degrees have been developed in Germany since 2004 (Anders, 2012).
The university training program under investigation is part of a three-year bachelor's degree called “early childhood inclusion” at the
University of Applied Sciences in Fulda, Germany. It is situated in the curriculum area of language and literacy education and based on
the interactive language stimulation model (Cole, Mills, Dale, & Jenkins, 1996; Weitzman & Greenberg, 2002; Jampert et al., 2009, 2011).
It trains child care providers over the course of a semester (6 month) to use play-based, naturalistic interaction strategies that are
associated with accelerated language development. Theoretically, the model stems from social interactionist perspectives of language
development that attribute a major facilitatory role to the caregivers' ability to provide responsive social contexts and a linguistically
stimulating environment (Bruner, 1983; Hoff-Ginsberg, 1986). The training offers knowledge about language development and introduces principles of effective teaching based on research findings on how to develop high quality interactions. Most importantly, it is
inquiry-oriented and based on the video-stimulated reflection (VSR) of the students' own pedagogical practices.
3.2. Design and method
The study (Tures, 2014) was conducted as an embedded mixed methods design with a focus on qualitative research strategies. The
central aim was to elicit and investigate the positioning processes within the dialogical self of students while they reflect on their own
language and literacy practices with the university teacher by applying the methodological considerations of our theoretical framework. After an interview according to a manual (Flick, 2006) at the beginning of semester, the method of video-stimulated
reflection (VSR, Cutrim Schmid, 2010, 2011) was applied twice to trace changes in the positionings of the students towards their own
pedagogical practices and to enhance their learning in the university classroom. For this purpose, students were asked to videotape
their language activities with a small group of children from their classroom in their day care center three times during the semester.
These videos where used to reflect on their interactions with young children from their work environment. Hence this method offers
students a direct perspective at their own professional practices. Through the specific way of addressing the students during these
2
Tures (2014) investigated her own practices as a university lecturer, acting as the dialogical partner within the social learning activity with the students.
4
Learning, Culture and Social Interaction xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
M.-C. Bertau, A. Tures
video-stimulated reflection sessions as a lecturer, a special format of learning activity is created where students get confronted with
their practices. The relationship between self-reflective positionings towards the lecturer and the positionings within the dialogical
self of the learner is theorized as genetic. It is therefore argued that the method of VSR generates traces of the dialogical nature of the
psychological learning activities within the learners.
On a quantitative level the “Teacher Interaction and Language Rating (TILR) Scale” (Girolametto, Weitzman, & Greenberg, 2000)
was used to measure changes in the interactional quality of the language activities with young children in the students' classroom.
Hence quantitative strategies were applied to create a reference point to the positioning processes during the learning activity in the
university classroom.
3.3. Findings
The findings demonstrate the complex nature of the positioning process during video-stimulated reflection sessions within the university level training program; distinct voices and their propositions within the dialogical self of the students were identified. Furthermore,
a discrepancy between verbalized beliefs of students and their interaction quality in the classroom was identified. All six students, who
participated in the explorative case studies, positioned themselves as responsive towards children during their language activities but only
two of them demonstrated a responsive behavior in the first video-taped language activity. The finding clearly indicates that the development of a teaching strategy towards young children, which is responsive and play-based can be challenging for early childhood students.
The data of all case studies furthermore demonstrates that these challenges can be explained with by the students' individual learning
process being multivoiced, dialogical and ambivalent. Interestingly though, the I-positions that are in line with, or dominant in, the
performance during the video-taped language activities only became evident during the video-stimulated reflection of these videotaped
interactions with the children, while they remain hidden during the interviews at the beginning of the semester. The method of videostimulated reflection unscrambles the ambivalence and tensions that come along with professional development. They evolve in the
dialogical self of individual learners during such reflective learning activities and can therefore be worked on. The data also indicates that
an I-position is performed throughout both partners in the reflection process. At the same time one can identify shifts in positioning within
one utterance of one speaker. In the following we will use examples from one case study that represent the most important findings to a)
carve out the voicings and positionings within the students' learning activity and b) demonstrate the role of the lecturer in becoming professional
through dialogical learning. We will present examples of Doris, one of the six case studies investigated. Doris is a 39-year-old student with a
PhD in archaeology who has been working as a language teacher in a day care center for five years.
The following examples will be used to demonstrate the ambivalence within the dialogical self of the students to identify the allies
and opponents who are involved in the development of the student's professional interactions with young children; further, to discuss
the methodological implications of the two different qualitative methods used – interview and video-stimulated reflection. The first
Table 1
TILR-Ratings of language and literacy practices: Doris in comparison to student group.
TILR-
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
Item
Wait
Follow
Joi
Be
Use a
Encourag
Sca
Imitat
Use
Expan
Exten
Student
and
children'
n in
fac
variety
e verbal
n
e
variet
d
d
s
liste
s lead
and
e to
of
turn-
y of
pla
fac
question
taking
labels
n
e
s
n
1. Literacy practice
Doris
1
1
1
7
2/3
2
3
N.A.
6
3
1
Group
3,6
3,2
2,5
5,6
2,5
2,9
3,6
5,0
5,3
3,4
2,3
2. Literacy practice
Doris
6
6
4
7
5
6
7
N.A.
6
5
5
Gesamt
4,5
4,7
3,3
6,2
3,5
4,7
5,3
1,0
5,5
4,3
3,6
3. Literacy practice
Doris
7
7
7
7
5
5/6
7
N.A.
7
6
6
Gesamt
5,2
5,2
4,8
7,0
3,8
5,0
5,7
4,0
6,2
5,3
5,8
Ratings 1–3,4
Rating 3,4–4.4
Rating 4,5–7
Needs improvement/goal for
Needs fine-tuning/goal for
Satisfactory/not a goal for
program
program
program
5
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M.-C. Bertau, A. Tures
example is from the interview at the beginning of the training program with the lecturer (L) when Doris (Do) positions herself
towards her own language activities:
Doris' response during this interview at the beginning of the training program indicates that Doris positions herself as a teacher
with a play-based and responsive strategy3 while interacting with young children during language activities (l. 4–12). When she reenacts her language activity with the children for the lecturer (l. 13–18 and 21–22), the verbal form of direct speech and open
questions are used. While Doris performs her responsive voice towards the children in the classroom, one can identify features of
exaggerated pitch changes, slower pace, pauses and open gestures. The performance of her language activity with children from her
classroom during the first interview differs a lot from the videotaped performance in the actual classroom as one can see by looking at
the TILR-Ratings of Doris first language activity: while Doris re-enacts a variety of open questions (Item 5) during the interview, one
can only identify test questions in the video-taped interaction that request the children to label the words on cards. She does not
follow the children's lead, nor does she encourage verbal turn taking and expand and extend the children's language. Hence the
language activity is dominated by labeling specific words and is considered directive.
3
According to the definition of the TILR-Scale from Girolametto et al. (2000), which was also used to measure the videotaped interaction quality (for an overview of
the 11 items see Table 1).
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The lecturer has a key role in supporting the students in becoming professional through dialogical learning within these reflective
practices. The second example illustrates the strategy of confrontation with the student's directive interaction strategies which was used
with students that displayed low quality interactions in their videotaped practices. Students were invited to revisit the scenes of their
videos in which they displayed directive interactions with the children. They were challenged to specifically describe the particular
strategies they used to provide these interactions. This transcript documents Doris (Do) positioning towards her own language activities
when she is about to revisit her videotaped language activity with the lecturer (L). In contrast to the sequence from the interview with
Doris one can identify a dialogical structure in Doris' positioning during the video-stimulated reflection sessions: voices that advocate for
a responsive interaction strategy and can be identified as aligned to the professional goals of the university program and voices that
advocate for a directive strategy and oppose the goals that were addressed by Doris during the interview at the beginning of the semester.
7
Learning, Culture and Social Interaction xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
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The lecturer's attempt to start the video of a sequence that was rated as highly directive triggers a response from Doris. She
expounds a problem of her interaction with the children from her classroom which sheds light into the different I-positions that are
linked to her pedagogical practices. Throughout the sequence two conflicting teaching techniques are in dialogue: While the directive
and instructive strategy is labeled as an old habit by Doris (l. 4), the responsive, play-based strategy is considered to be the ‘present’
pedagogical approach (l. 29–32). Hence ‘past self’ as directive is in dialogue with ‘present self’ as responsive. In response to the
question of the lecturer (l. 7) the form of direct speech is used by Doris to re-enact her responsive voice for the lecturer which
criticizes the level of instruction during the phase of program planning (l. 12–14). One can then witness a changeover from the
responsive to the directive positioning when Doris positions herself as the person in charge of the topic of conversation during
language activities (l. 15–18).
Because of the lecturer's prompt to perform the alternative responsive position again, one can once more identify the responsive
interaction strategy in Doris open body and hand movements and her verbal account (l. 22–26). Again, the directive positioning
emerges in Doris speech and brings forward the key argument (l. 27): if the language activity had not been executed in this particular
way with a high level of instruction and the particular material (the cards with pictures of different items) the specific vocabulary
chosen by Doris would not have been the topic of the conversation. Actually the interests of the children would have led to another
topic and different vocabulary.
One can observe two contrary I-positions that are in dialogue with each other throughout this sequence and are performed in a
specific verbal and vocal form and particular body movements. Each I-position argues for a different pedagogical approach towards
interacting with young children during language activities: The first one is instruction-based and directive and focuses on systematic
vocabulary training. The second one can be described as play-based and responsive towards the children's interest in a conversation
and lets the children lead and is the one in line with the outline of the training program and is therefore staged by the lecturer. It also
becomes evident that at this point of the university training program Doris' responsive voice emerges during the stage of program
planning but is not prominent in the interactions with the children in the classroom during the first videotaped language activity.
Further analysis identified a second type of intervention by the lecturer during the VSR- sessions at university. The strategy of
confrontation with the students' responsive interaction strategies was used to invite students to revisit the scenes of their videos in
which they displayed high quality interactions with the children. They were asked specifically to describe the particular strategies
they used to provide these interactions. As a result, theoretical implications on how to interact with children are linked to the
practices of the students and an example of best practice is modeled by the students with the support of the teacher according to the
notion: This is how it looks when you provide high quality interactions according to the program outline. As a consequence, students
experience a contrast between the sequences in which they were responsive and the one in which they displayed directive strategies
towards the children.
Repetition is a key pattern throughout the lecturer's interventions she repeatedly encounters the students with questions and
comments that support them to reflect on and explicitly name their interaction strategies. This way the students' dominant patterns
and strategies within the interactions with the children are carved out and emphasized. By reformulating the students' positionings
towards their videotaped interactions with children, the lecturer “voices” the wording of the theory based program outline. Scientific
terms and ways of labeling the interaction strategies become a part of the student's positionings through the lecturer's interventions.
Thus students are being formed in reflecting on their professional practices through the social language activity with the lecturer. We
assume that the kind of social language activity that explicitly enacts the different social and individual voices at stake for becoming
professional is a crucial means for the interiorization process (see Section 2.1) as well as for dialogic learning (see Section 2.2).
This approach to reflection can be described as hermeneutic. Rather than positioning students as directive or responsive in their
interactions with young children, the identified types of interventions enable early childhood students to become reflective practitioners. It supports them in learning to reflect based on theoretical criteria and to link the theory taught in the university classroom
with their own pedagogical practices with children. Findings clearly indicate that this particular way of confronting ECEC students
with their own practices leads to a higher level of awareness within the student's reflection processes. This results, firstly, in a
diminished or resolved discrepancy between the students', later professionals', beliefs and their actual interaction strategies; secondly,
it generates a fruitful dialogicality of the professional with herself as well as with the pedagogical agenda represented and enacted by
the lecturer's voices.
4. Conclusion
In the theoretical framework here applied, language is seen as activity; a dynamic, “vivid” notion of the verbal form corresponds
to that understanding and indicates the rich phenomenality of the language event occurring in the so-called spacetimes of language.
Within and by virtue of these spacetimes, the self's formations take place, i.e. within and through the speaking of the other(s) to self
and for self. This is enacted by verbal forms (re-)arranging and expressing the relationships between Self, Other, Audience, and the
topic talked about within a specific cultural-historical situation.
The empirical study based in this approach (Tures, 2014) generally shows, first, that distinct voices enacted in concrete language
forms can be identified, corresponding to the multiple voices active in the learners' dialogical self. The method of video-stimulated
reflection makes the kinds of voicings actually occurring within a dialogic and social language spacetime explicit. The I-positions
these voicings perform are enacted by both dialogic partners during the reflection; shifts in positionings – possibly within single
utterances – are made audible.
Second, the discrepancy between the beliefs of the students of early childhood education and their actual interaction quality with
young children becomes obvious. This is indicative of the challenge for these students to appropriate and perform a responsive and
8
Learning, Culture and Social Interaction xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
M.-C. Bertau, A. Tures
play-based strategy with the children. This strategy is at the core of the students' training aiming at professionals who are able to
provide responsive social contexts and a linguistically stimulating environment. This discrepancy is, again, audible in the language
activity as performed with the lecturer, who voices the program's agenda.
Both general findings highlights the individual learning process as multivoiced; particularly, this multivoicedness is shown to be
pervaded by tensions between social speech types with their dominant voicings on the one hand and on the other hand individual
voices, which need to be developed; in this sense, the learning process can be called ‘heteroglotic’ (see Bakhtin's, 1981, notion of
heteroglossia). Within a dialogic and reflective learning environment – e.g. given by the dialogues around the video-stimulated
reflection – the tensions and negotiations between the different types of speeches and voices might deploy a genuine transformativedeveloping power to the benefit of learning, specifically enabling to address the issue of a discrepancy between belief about a practice
and the actual enactment of that practice.
The case study of Doris illustrates these general findings, allowing to trace micro-genetically the kind of voicings and positionings
that are actually occurring in Doris' dialogical self on the way to become professional according to the training's agenda. In her
dialogues with the lecturer, Doris enacts an I-position as directive educator, which gets confronted with the responsive-playful
strategy of the program, as represented and performed by the lecturer. Doris develops and transforms her past self as directive
educator through the verbal-dialogical enactment of two opposite I-positions arguing for the two competing pedagogical approaches:
directive and responsive-playful. Doris' voice and position as responsive educator emerges, enabled and scaffolded by the lecturer's
language activities. Doris oscillates thus between different individual and diverse social voices during her learning process.
In this, Doris' case shows dialogic learning occurring as speaking-and-thinking via the other and encompassing different kinds of
language forms and their voices performed within language spacetimes. The movement between Self (Doris) – Other (lecturer) –
Audience (the two pedagogical stances and their defenders, respectively) is the field within which this learning process is happening –
a languaged field made of negotiated verbal practices that are drawn through by addressivity and dialogicality of the partners and
instances to each other. Becoming professional, and further acting as such, is constituted by this field with its inherent tensions
between individual and public-social voicings-positionings pervading individual as well as social language activity.
We conclude that it is the individual and social voice density and versatility that makes up dialogical learning and calls for
awareness: Who is doing the speaking, how, as whom? In terms of learning, dialogue is then obviously crucial and not just a transmitter,
and not just nicer then monologue. Rather, the quality of the Other's reply is critical. von Humboldt (1999) might idealize the
dialogical interplay, but contemporary research in the Vygotskian tradition has made evident how unsuccessful educators' dialogues
can be, and how they can be turned into fruitful ones, where understanding and appropriation occurs (e.g. Mercer & Sams, 2006). In
this sense, video-stimulated reflection, which provokes different voicings and positionings, shows an effective dialogical instrument
for the learning activity and its investigation.
Appendix A
Explanation of transcription conventions used in the above excerpts; the original is in German (grey lines), the English lines are
translations (black lines):
CAPITALS speech that is obviously louder than the surrounding speech, perceptible as emphasis
Italics
significant shift in tone or quality of voice, perceptible voice shift
//text// overlapping speech
text/
stop as self-interruption followed by a reformulation
(???)
not understandable
(text)
parallel activities to speech; description of voice quality
(.)
micropause, hearable, but not too short to measure
[text]
clarification to translation
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