Scaffolding
The concept of scaffolding has its origins in the work of the psychologist Vygotsky as well as in studies of early language learning. Bruner (1978) believed that for learning to take place, appropriate social interactional frameworks must be provided. In the case of the young child learning language, the instructional component consists of the caregiver (normally the mother) providing a framework to allow the child to learn. To do this, the caregiver should always be one step ahead of the child (Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development), and by using contexts that are extremely familiar and routinized the caregiver can facilitate the child’s learning. These highly predictable routines, such as reading books together or conversations at bath time or meals, offer the caregiver and child a structure within which the caregiver can continually raise her expectations of the child’s performance. For Bruner, this meant specifically the child’s linguistic performance, because, he argued, it is within these formats that children learn how to use language.

Joseph Foley, Department of English Language and
Literature, National University of Singapore

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