17.1309, Review: Applied Ling/2nd LangAcquisition:de Guerrero(2005)

Fri Apr 28 19:46:37 UTC 2006

LINGUIST List: Vol-17-1309. Fri Apr 28 2006. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 17.1309, Review: Applied Ling/2nd LangAcquisition:de Guerrero(2005)

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Date: 26-Apr-2006
From: Anna Plastina < annplast at tin.it >
Subject: Inner Speech -L2 

-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 15:42:02
From: Anna Plastina < annplast at tin.it >
Subject: Inner Speech -L2 

Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/16/16-3559.html 

AUTHOR: de Guerrero, Maria C. M. 
TITLE: Inner Speech -- L2
SUBTITLE: Thinking Words in a Second Language 
SERIES: Educational Linguistics 6 
PUBLISHER: Springer 
YEAR: 2005 

Anna Franca Plastina, Dipartimento di Linguistica, Università della 
Calabria, Italia


The book pinpoints the features of second language (L2) inner 
speech and analyses the processes which trigger its development. 
Throughout the volume, focus is placed on inner speech conceived 
as ''the internal (covert) and nonaudible forms of speech for oneself, 
such as mental rehearsal and internal self-talk'' (xii). External 
manifestations of self-directed speech are only marginally treated as 
the author's main aim is to explore the social construct of ''the faculty 
to conjure up in the mind words in a second language (L2)'' (xi) within 
the sociocultural theory framework (Vygotsky 1978, 1986; Leontiev 
1981; Sokolov 1972; Vocate 1994).

The author offers a comprehensive overview of the issue, covering 
historical background information and theoretical principles, besides 
providing insights into the study of inner speech both in the speaker's 
first language (L1) and in L2 from an articulated methodological, 
empirical and pedagogical perspective.

The book is addressed to scholars with a specific interest in 
sociocultural theory application, to researchers, educators, and 
students in the fields of L2 and Foreign Language (FL) learning, 
applied linguistics, language and cognition, and psycholinguistics. It 
might also be a useful resource book for those interested in gaining 
an understanding of the role played by inner speech in mediating 
language and thought.

Chapter 1, ''Understanding Inner Speech'', sets the foundations for the 
book as it provides an overview of the concept of inner speech in a 
historical, philosophical and theoretical frame. In this first section, the 
essential tenets of the sociocultural theory framework are also 
introduced to facilitate the reader in fully grasping an understanding of 
the inner speech processes related to L2 learning. The genetic 
approach in the analysis of higher mental functions and Activity 
Theory are presented as significant contributions to the evolution of 
sociocultural theory. The chapter then ends with an explanatory 
section which defines and delimits inner speech, besides providing an 
analytical explanation of terms associated with the concept of inner 
speech (verbal thought, thinking in (a) language, language of 
thought/language for thought, intrapersonal communication, self-talk, 
covert linguistic behavior, mental rehearsal, and private speech).

In Chapter 2, ''Thinking Words in One's First Language'', Guerrero 
introduces research and theoretical views on inner speech in the L1 
and specifies that ''the greatest bulk of research on inner speech has 
been conducted from an L1 perspective'' (p.27). The chapter covers a 
literature review of inner speech firstly from a sociocultural approach 
which is extensively treated. Then a concise miscellany of cognitive 
approaches (Frawley's sociocomputational approach, 1997; Clarke's 
supracommunicative view, 1998; Carruthers' modular hypothesis, 
1998) are presented with the intent to illustrate how the phenomenon 
of inner speech is tackled from various positions other than from the 
sociocultural perspective. Finally, brain-imaging research is discussed 
insofar that it enables brain functions to be examined by techniques 
such as positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance 
imaging (MRI) during inner speech activity. The chapter concludes 
with a list of queries on the implications for L2 inner speech, deriving 
from the L1 literature formerly reviewed.

In tackling the issue of the available literature on inner speech and L2 
learning, Chapter 3, ''Thinking Words in a Second Language'', is laid 
out according to five main themes:
1. inner speech as verbal thought in L2;
2. the internalization of social speech as L2 inner speech;
3. the role of inner speech in L2 reading and writing;
4. L2 mental rehearsal;
5. L2 inner speech activity manifested through brain-imaging 
Overall, the chapter is a salient part of the book as it provides the 
background to the following chapters 5-8.

Chapter 4, ''Methodology of Research on Inner Speech'', deals with 
the methodological difficulty faced by researchers in investigating 
inner speech as a covert verbal activity. The strengths and 
weaknesses of Vygotsky's experimental-genetic method of 
investigation are firstly illustrated and are then followed by a 
discussion of an extensive range of major alternative methods 
employed (e.g. verbal reports). Some less used techniques (Q-
methodology, cued recall, thought-sampling) and laboratory 
tools/techniques are also examined. The pros and cons of each 
method are clearly outlined with analytical reference to their potential 
implementation in inner-speech study and induce researchers to 
reflect on their own methodological orientation. 

Chapter 5 , ''L2 Inner Speech: What Learners Say'', focuses mainly on 
two empirical research studies carried out by the author and highlights 
the phenomenon of inner speech as perceived from the L2 learner's 
viewpoint. The first study draws on L2 mental rehearsal supported by 
verbal report, whereas the second is based on the early stages of L2 
inner speech, using learners' diaries and the stimulated recall 
technique. In the last section of the chapter where the pros and cons 
of verbal report methodology are examined, the author warns 
that: ''verbal report data, whether introspective or retrospective, 
cannot go into the unconscious, inaccessible inner speech processes, 
such as how meaning is vested on thoughts and to what extent the L1 
or the L2 is implicated at the deep conceptual stage''(p. 151). From 
her findings, Guerrero concludes that early attempts at internalizing 
external social L2 speech are necessary for the development of L2 
inner speech although L1 continues to be the predominant tool even 
at advanced levels of L2 development.

Chapter 6, ''An Integrated View of the Origin, Nature, and 
Development of L2 Inner Speech'', blends L1 and L2 research reviews 
with sociocultural theory principles, as from the previous book 
chapters, to explore L2 inner speech and its ontogenesis and 
microgenetic process in an integrated perspective. Inner speech, both 
as the process of internalization of L2 and as externalization of 
thought, is amply discussed. Subsequently, the forms and functions of 
L2 inner speech are outlined and similar traits with L1- ''a tendency 
toward syntactic abbreviation, semantic condensation, and sonority in 
the mind'' (p.189) - are identified. In the last section, the reader's 
attention is drawn to the impact of inner speech on the construction of 
an L2 identity.

Chapter 7, ''Developing L2 Inner Speech: A Pedagogical Perspective'', 
specifically addresses instructional processes whereby learning 
strategies, deployed by learners, and teaching techniques deemed 
useful for L2 inner speech development, are strongly considered. The 
chapter draws three salient points: 
1. L2 inner speech development can be fostered propitiously in 
instructional settings;
2. ''effective intramental use of the L2, alone or in conjunction with the 
L1, is essential for becoming literate in the L2'' (p.211);
3. awareness-raising of inner speech may enhance learners' L2 
intentional use and language control.

Chapter 8, ''Synthesis and Directions for Further Research'', firstly 
summarises the theoretical principals, the empirical outcomes and the 
pedagogical implications of inner speech introduced in the present 
volume. It then provides thoughtful suggestions for pursuing further 
research in four main areas, namely: ''(1) aspects concerning the 
nature, development, and use of L2 inner speech, (2) effects of 
pedagogical intervention, (3) application of under-used or novel 
methodological approaches, and (4) continued theorizing'' (p.216).

The author also includes an appendix with instructions directed to L2 
learners on how to keep a diary account of their experience of inner 
speech in English. The appendix provides 14 direct questions which 
guide L2 learners in writing about their inner-speech experience.


Initially, readers may feel overwhelmed by the amount and complexity 
of information on the phenomenon of inner speech provided in the 
volume. However, the coherently organized structure of the book 
easily guides them through the relevant specific content concerning 
the history, theory, methodology and pedagogy related to tackling the 
issue of inner speech. All these areas are covered extensively and in 
detail. The historical dimension of research on inner speech and the 
clear definitions of essential notions associated with the concept 
(Chapter 1) are particularly helpful for readers with no prior 
knowledge of the phenomenon.

Furthermore, the author encourages the readership to gain new 
insights into L2 inner speech starting from an L1 perspective within 
the sociocultural theory framework by reviewing the pertinent 
literature. One area requiring a slightly more extensive elaboration, 
however, appears to be that of other approaches to the issue 
(Chapter 2). Particularly, in the section devoted to ''cognitive 
approaches to inner speech: a miscellany'', some more elaborated 
and yet relatively brief discussion would have raised the reader's 
awareness of the contrast between other approaches and the one 
adopted in the book.

On the other hand, the wide coverage of research methods on inner 
speech (Chapter 4) supports researchers and applied linguists in 
acquiring the proper conceptualisations and skills to implement their 
investigations of the issue. The section on neuroimaging, however, 
might be less accessible to much of the targeted audience. 
Nevertheless, the scientific-methodological aspect is well balanced by 
the author's empirical case studies where the L2 learner becomes 
overtly central to the issue.

Moreover, both processes of internalization and externalization of L2 
inner speech are well elucidated and even the general reader grasps 
a good understanding of the features of the phenomenon. Educators, 
in particular, can benefit from the content of Chapter 7 which 
increases professional awareness of how to relate teaching praxis to 
the learner's use of both L1 and L2 in propitious classroom 
environments. In this view, the author positively suggests encouraging 
L2 learners to engage in diary-keeping (appendix). This practice 
would benefit not only the learners but also applied linguistic 
researchers and educators' understanding of L2 inner speech related 
to learning styles. Currently, there are still persistent issues which 
have ''prevented styles from becoming accessible and practical for 
classroom use'' (Dörnyei, 2005:157) and, certainly, L2 inner speech 
has been neglected in L2 educational settings. 

Overall, Guerrero achieves the objectives set in each chapter, moving 
from one perspective to another with a relatively natural flow. 
Conclusions drawn at the end of each chapter prove also helpful for 
those readers who are novices to the issue dealt.

Generally speaking, the book is recommended to experienced 
researchers/educators as a source of new inspiration to delve more 
deeply into their professional practice and to novice researchers and 
students in the fields of L2 and Foreign Language (FL) learning, 
applied linguistics, language and cognition, and psycholinguistics who 
will value this original contribution to the relatively unexplored area of 
L2 inner speech.


Carruthers, P. (1998). Thinking in language? Evolution and a 
modularist possibility. In P. Carruthers & J. Boucher (Eds.), Language 
and thought. Interdisciplinary themes  (pp. 94-119). Cambridge, U.K: 
Cambridge University Press.

Clarke, A. (1998). Magic words: How language augments human 
computation. In P. Carruthers & J. Boucher (Eds.), Language and 
thought. Interdisciplinary themes  (pp. 162-183). Cambridge, U.K: 
Cambridge University Press.

Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The Psychology of the Language Learner: 
Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition. Hillsdale, NJ: 
Lawrence Erlbaum.

Frawley, W. (1997). Vygotsky and cognitive science. Language and 
the unification of the social and computational mind. Cambridge, MA: 
Harvard University Press.

Leontiev, A.N. (1981). The problem of activity in psychology. In J.V. 
Wertsch (Ed.), The concept of activity in Soviet psychology (pp. 37-
71). Armonk, NY: Sharpe.

Sokolov, A.N. (1972). Inner speech and thought. New York: Plenum.

Vocate, D. R. (1994). Self-talk and inner speech: Understanding the 
uniquely human aspects of intrapersonal communication. In D. R. 
Vocate (Ed.), Intrapersonal communication: Different voices, different 
minds (pp. 3-31), Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. The development of higher 
psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: The 
MIT Press. 


Anna Franca Plastina is Assistant Professor of English language and 
linguistics at the University of Calabria, Italy. Her research interests 
include schema theory and the inner process of L2 reading 
acquisition; L2 language learning styles including mental translation 
strategies in ESP and the language-learning self in virtual text-based 
interaction following Vygotsky's sociocultural theory.

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