Con Confianza: The Emergence of the Zone of Proximal Development in a University ESL CourseReport as inadecuate

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HOW, v22 n1 p10-25 Apr-Sep 2015

This article illustrates how a classroom community characterized by "confianza"--a feeling of mutual understanding, respect, and emotional closeness--facilitated the English language learning of Spanish-speaking students in a content-based English as a second language class at a Puerto Rican public university. To understand the processes by which this language learning took place qualitative data were collected through classroom observations and focus groups. The authors examined the language choices students made in their interactions with professors, teaching assistants, and peers as they engaged in classroom conversations using both Spanish and English as learning tools. The central claim of the article is that "confianza" created the conditions through which learners were able to activate their zone of proximal development.

Descriptors: English (Second Language), Second Language Learning, Second Language Instruction, Puerto Ricans, Sociocultural Patterns, Learning Theories, Qualitative Research, Focus Groups, Student Attitudes, Teaching Assistants, Teacher Student Relationship, College Faculty, State Universities, Teaching Methods, Course Content, Peer Relationship, Spanish Speaking, Agricultural Education, Majors (Students), Ethnography, Case Studies, College Students, Interviews

ASOCOPI, the Colombian Association of Teachers of English. Cra 27 A #53-06, oficina 405, Bogota, Colombia. +57-2115018; Fax: +57-2115018. e-mail: asocopicolombia[at]; Web site:

Author: Soto-Santiago, Sandra L.; Rivera, Rosita L.; Mazak, Catherine M.


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