One means, many goals

Overimitation of language learning resources


  • Anne Feryok University of Otago
  • Gaye Wall University of Otago



Second language acquisition, sociocultural theory, imitation, verbalization, orientation, self-regulation


Overimitation – the imitation of irrelevant elements in an action – seems to be both uniquely human and developmental, just as language is. This case study looks at how an adult Thai EFL learner used verbalization through self-questioning during the final task in a six-week intervention on reading-to-write. The study is situated in sociocultural theory and involves a microgenetic analysis of a video-recording of the participant verbalizing during the task, triangulated with proficiency testing, questionnaires, interviews, classroom field notes, and member checking. The findings show the participant oriented to the reading-to write task in several ways, one of which was by overimitating a list of questions he had been provided as a meditational support, by using the question list not only in order to self-regulate by monitoring his comprehension and managing the task as he had been encouraged to do, but also to practice making questions. By practicing question making he repurposed a task at the edge of his abilities into one better suited to his proficiency level, and managed to address the task goals set by the researcher and his own goals. Examining imitation and overimitation can provide practical pedagogical information to teachers as well as theoretical insights into language learning.

Author Biographies

Anne Feryok, University of Otago

Dr Anne Feryok is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Linguistics, English, at the University of Otago, New Zealand. She specializes in Second Language Teaching and Learning, Sociocultural and Activity Theory, Motivation, Feedback, Language Teacher Cognitions.

Gaye Wall, University of Otago

Gaye Wall is affiliated to the Department of English and Linguistics at the University of Otago, New Zealand.


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How to Cite

Feryok, A., & Wall, G. (2017). One means, many goals: Overimitation of language learning resources. Language and Sociocultural Theory, 4(1), 25–51.




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