Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory and Hong Kong

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Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory focused on the affect of the surroundings, namely the culture, peers, and adults, on the developing child. Vygotsky proposed the “zone of proximal development” (ZPD) to explain the influence of the cultural context. ZPD refers to the range of tasks which a child cannot finish alone since they are too difficult, but such tasks can be completed with guidance and aid from more-skilled individuals. The lower limit of ZPD is the level of skill that the children can reach alone, and the upper limit of ZPD is the level of skill that the children can reach with guidance from a more skilled individual, such as teachers, parents and more-skilled peers. Imagine a child is having difficulty writing book reports. With suitable aid from teachers and parents, this child can improve in writing book reports and eventually he/she can finish a detailed book report after reading on his own. In this example, the upper limit of the ZPD is to finish a book report and the assistance provided by the adults is called scaffolding. The assistance provided by the more-skilled individuals will act as a scaffolding to help the children to develop into their upper limit of ZPD. As the children are making progress, the assistance will gradually reduce and removed when the children can complete the task in their upper limit of ZPD on their own. Vygotsky also emphasized on the importance of language in a child’s development. The use of language by children to self-regulate is called private speech. According to Vygotsky, private speech, which Piaget deemed egocentric and immature, is crucial during early childhood years as children use it for planning, guiding and monitoring their actions and help them finish tasks. Vygotsky suggested that children who use private speech will be more socially competent as children must be experienced in using language to communicate with others before making the transition from external to internal speech. In the past, the...