Private speech as a cognitive tool in problem solving among proficient non-native speakers
Garbaj, Mostafa Mohamed
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Previous studies on second language (L2) private speech (e.g., Ahmed, 1994; Centeno-Cortés & Jimenéz-Jimenéz, 2004; Frawley & Lantolf, 1985; Ushakova, 1994) have produced inconsistent findings on the use of L2 as a cognitive tool in problem solving activities by proficient speakers. Two significant weaknesses in previous investigations are possibly behind this problem. One weakness is the failure to use measures of proficiency as suggested by SCT research; another major issue is the negligence of the influence of a speaker's cultural and/or language acquisition backgrounds on private speech and self-regulation. The present study attempted to find a clearer answer on the use of L2 private speech as a mediator in problem solving by avoiding these two major weaknesses (i.e., by utilizing proficiency measures suggested by SCT research and accounting for any cultural mediation). Story narration and challenging logic problem solving activities were used to collect private speech. Data analysis focused mainly on identifying and analyzing characteristics of private speech in order to assess the extent of using non-native language as a cognitive tool. Moreover, the analysis included features that were possibly induced by the participants' cultural or language acquisition backgrounds. The results provided evidence that proficient speakers - with extensive formal and informal acquisition experiences - used L2 private speech to mediate their mental functioning as they worked on the tasks. Additionally, the participants' language acquisition contexts shaped some self-regulatory moves and justified differences, which previously thought to be problematic, between the native and non-native speakers' private speech.