Mediated Development

Inter-psychological activity for L2 education


  • Matthew E. Poehner The Pennsylvania State University
  • Paolo Infante The Pennsylvania State University



Mediated Learning, Zone of Proximal Development, Systemic Theoretical Instruction, L2 Writing, Sociocultural Theory


L2 Vygotskian research has turned increasingly toward the design of educational practices to promote learner development. Two important strands of work that have emerged are Systemic Theoretical Instruction (STI), wherein L2 curricula are organized around linguistic concepts, and Dynamic Assessment, emphasizing mediators and learners engaged in what Vygotsky described as inter-psychological activity. This paper examines processes of mediator-learner interaction in the context of an STI program targeting learner understanding of the English tense-aspect system. Importantly, the focus of interaction was not to diagnose learner L2 abilities but to introduce specially designed pedagogical materials, or tools. The framework of Mediated Learning, developed by Reuven Feuerstein through his work with learners with special needs, guided the approach taken to joint mediator-learner functioning. Close analysis of transcribed mediator-learner interactions point to processes through which materials come to function as tools and the importance of the social relation created by mediators and learners.

Author Biographies

Matthew E. Poehner, The Pennsylvania State University

Matthew E. Poehner is Associate Professor of World Languages Education and Applied Linguistics at The Pennsylvania State University. His research employs Vygotskian theory to understand and promote processes of learner second language development. He has authored numerous book chapters and articles, and his work has appeared in The Modern Language Journal, Language Teaching Research, TESOL Quarterly, and Language Testing.

Paolo Infante, The Pennsylvania State University

Paolo Infante is a PhD candidate in the College of Education at The Pennsylvania State University. His research focuses on Vygotskian-based approaches to second language teaching and learning to support language development. He has served as a teacher educator and as an ESL instructor at both secondary and post-secondary levels.


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How to Cite

Poehner, M. E., & Infante, P. (2015). Mediated Development: Inter-psychological activity for L2 education. Language and Sociocultural Theory, 2(2), 161–183.