Scaffolding

It is widely agreed that cognitive as well as linguistic development is dependent upon interaction with the environment (Piattelli-Palmarini, 1980). That is, it is through communicating with others that we develop both cognitively and linguistically. Indeed, according to Vygotsky learning itself is a socially mediated process (1979). Humans learn through interaction with the physical and the social world. Teachers play a fundamental role as mediators, moderators and models of these interactions. Scaffolding is a form of talk that assists children to simultaneously think through and articulate what they are in the process of thinking. It is an adult mentor lending a hand in the way of a slight nudge to the apprentice as she makes her way through a novel and challenging task. This "nudge" is the product of the teacher/mentor attending very closely to the child's current knowledge state, having a feel for the child's developmental stages, being familiar with the learner's specific skills and abilities, and having a clear notion of what the child is capable of at a given moment. Scaffolding takes the form of simple encouragement to continue independent thinking or writing in a particular direction, an encouraging look, nod or comment when the child is heading down the desired path of reasoning, or a single word or simple phrase that helps maintain the continuity of the child's thoughts and actions. Like with native-speaker children, scaffolding is an invaluable tool to promote independent, critical thinking. The added benefit for non-native speaking children is that they can also be nudged to construct and use the language they are learning at the same time. Scaffolding is a way to assist the ESL learner to feel comfortable and successful when producing English. It is an effective means of supporting the child through the second language acquisition process