chapter  3
Rethinking Vygotsky
A Critical reading of the semiotics in Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory
ByRuihan Zhang
Pages 22

This paper is part of a larger project which was originally inspired by the surge of intellectual interest, starting from the late 1980s and early 1990s in western academia, in the former Soviet psychologist Lev S. Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory of psychology. Vygotsky’s approach to the development of the psychological functions of man places much emphasis on the transformative roles played by social and cultural tools such as language, and thus distinguishes itself from other popular methodologies, such as behaviorism and Chomskyan generative grammar, which study human thinking and its relationships with language by cutting off the connections between the inner mental world and the external physical world. Therefore, Vygotsky’s theory is widely believed to be an alternative to both the behaviorist and the mentalist approach to the problem of the mind and that of language. A group of linguists working within the field of second language acquisition even claimed that Vygotsky’s theory provides the solution that can finally settle the long-standing social-cognitive debate in the study of language teaching and learning.