1.Constructivism Theories on Language Teaching  and  Learning

Constructivism is a new approach in education that claims humans are better able to understand the information they have constructed by themselves. According to Von Glasersfeld 1996, Fosnot 1996, Duffy and Cuningham 1996 ”Constructivism is a theory of learning which posits that students learn by actively constructing”. It means that ”Constructivism is an approach  in which the students learn something by constructing their own  understanding and knowledge. In this case, the students as the learners become the central  in the learning process. The learning of the students is effected by their prejudices ,experiences etc. Here, the constructivist classrooms unlike the conventional teaching. The position of the teacher is as facilitator and guide who plans, organizes, guides and provides directions to the learner to do their own learning. While if the learners(students) find problem  in their learning, they can work in group  to solve it. This way leads the students to create of practical solutions and a diverse variety of student products.

Constructivist theories more popularity with “advent of personal computers in classrooms and homes”. Personal computers provide individual students with tools to experiment and build their own learning at their own pace. Under constructivist theory, learners would use available building blocks to construct knowledge that is viable and meaningful for them in an ongoing process of construction, evaluation and modification constructs. The assessment tool in a constructivist classroom  is not a test or a quiz, rather it is the learner product(portfolio format) that has been designed by the learner.

1.1  Approaches of Constructivism

There are two main approaches to constructivism . They are cognitive and social constructivism. The former is associated with the work of Piaget and the latter with Vygotsky. In this case, cognitive constructivist concentrates on the importance of the mind in learning, while social constructivist focuses on the key role played by the environment and the interaction between learners. Piaget focuses on the developmental of cognitive structure in learners. On the other hand,, Vygotsky focuses on the social interaction in the learning. Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky  are two eminent figures in the development of constructivism theories. They believe that classrooms must be constructivist environment. Although they have the same belief but there are differences in terms  on their theories and variations such as how constructivism should be carried out in classroom.

1.2 Piaget Cognitive Constructivism (1896-1980)

Jean Piaget was a philosopher from Switzerland. He was also a natural  scientist that was famous for the work that he did studying cognitive development and learning theories.

Piaget’s developmental theory of learning and constructivism are based on discovery. According to his constructivist theory , in order to provide an ideal learning environment, children should be allowed to construct knowledge that is meaningful to them. There are two concepts within the cognitive constructivism learning theory  based on Piaget which create the construction of an individual’s new knowledge . They are assimilation and accommodation.

Assimilation causes an individual to incorporate new experiences into the old experiences. This causes the individual to develop new outlooks, rethink what were once misunderstanding, evaluate what is important and changing  their perception. While accommodation is an ongoing process involving continual interaction between the mind and the environment. It is reframing the world and new experiences into the mental capacity that already present.

1.2.1 The Piagetian Classroom

Piaget believes that a constructivist classroom must provide a variety of activities to challenge the students to concept individual differences, increase their readiness to learn ,discover new ideas and construct their own knowledge. In an elementary Piagetian classroom, concrete learning experiences such as drawing, drama, model building and field trip that involve hands on opportunities to see, hear, touch, taste and smell are essential. These early activities and visual aids serve as building blocks for more sophisticated tasks such as reading comprehension.

 1.3 Vygotsky  Social Constructivism(1896-1934)

Len Vygotsky is known because of his theory of social constructivism. He believes that learning and development are a collaborative activity in which children are cognitively developed in the context of socialization and education. In this case, Vygotsky’s constructivism is known as social constructivism because of the significance of culture and social contexts. The way  how to apply the social constructivism is the first, the child makes contact with the social environment on an interpersonal  level and then internalizes this experience. The earlier notions and new experience influence the child who then constructs new ideas. For example, the point of  a finger shows how this behavior . It becomes a meaningful movement when others react to gesture.

Mediation is the key concept of Vygotsky’s theory of constructivism. Mediation refers to people intentionally interject items between their environment and themselves, so that they are able to modify  it and gain specific benefits. Through mediation, there are some benefits of Vygotsky’s constructivism theory. They are as follows:

  1. Vygotsky’s theory of constructivism  supports that the use of mediator helps the human to alter their environment (this is the way of interacting with the nature).
  2. Supports the use of activity . In this case, mediator provides a way in which people are able to interact with the  nature.
  3. Mediation is also defined as the use of certain tools within socially organized  activity.

1.3.1 The Vygotskian Classroom

The Vygotskian classroom stresses assisted discovery through teacher-student and student-student interaction. Some of the cognitive strategies that group members bring into the classroom are questioning ,predicting ,summarizing and clarifying.

In a Vygotskian classroom ,dynamic support and considerate guidance are provided based on the learner’s needs. Students are exposed to discussion ,research collaboration, electronic information resources and project groups that work on problem analysis.

1.4 Conclusion

Both Piaget and Vygotsky  appreciated the importance of building constructs and internalizing the knowledge given, rather than accepting the information as presented through rote-memory. Constructivist learning environments promote the learner to gather, filter, analyze, and reflect on the information provided and to comment on this knowledge so that it will result in individualized comprehension and private learning.


Http:// [accesed on 15/09/12]

Http:// [accessed on 15/09/12]

Http://[accesed on 15/09/12]

Http://[accesed on 15/09/12]

Http://[accesed on 15/09/12]

2.Behaviorism  Theories on  Language Teaching and  Learning


Behaviorism  is a theory that measures the observable behaviors that produced by a learner’s response to stimuli. Respond to stimuli can be reinforced with positive or negative feedback to condition the desired behaviors. Knowing or reward is given for the correct response to stimuli, while punishment is given for  incorrect response to stimuli, here if the learner’s giving is incorrect response, he or she  can do clarifying to the desired actions. The important thing for learner as the behaviorist is when he or she gives the correct response to stimuli.

There are some concepts of learning related to the behaviorism theory. They are process that tends to be passive, the learners use  low level processing skill to understand the material, the material is often isolated from real world contexts or situation, and the learners use little responsibility in concerning the education.

While, the typical behavioristic model of the classroom includes classroom management, rote memorization, drill and practice. Here, reading section was the activity that was highlighted in classroom management. The using of behaviorism theory can  be used to  positive and negative reinforcements to elicit desired behavior of students in order to  establish and maintain the classroom management.

The explanation above is the point of view related to behaviorism. After knowing the explanation above, I can conclude that behaviorism focuses on behaviors  that can be observed. Reward or punishment is the consequence of the behavior. Reward can be shown through giving stickers ,treats, food etc. While, punishment  can be shown  such as  no play time, extra chores and taking away item. Here, reward  as the positive reinforcement  can increase or strengthen the behaviors for example  giving praise or promotes good behaviors. On the other hand, punishment  as the negative reinforcement  can decrease the behavior such as if the child is acting out the get extra work or no recess.

The behaviorism is primarily associated with Pavlov (classical conditioning)in Russia and J.B Watson. While, B.F Skinner in United  States(operant conditioning). The two types of possible conditioning that  are  classical and operant conditioning will be explained as follows.

2.1  Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)

Ivan Pavlov is brilliant Russian Behaviorist. It means that he observed behavior. He states that  the human  mind should be interpreted as a black box that can be opened. It means that what goes in can come out as knowledge. Here, Ivan Pavlov  concerned in the concept of classical conditioning behaviorism.

Classical  conditioning is the process of relax learning through which an unconditioned stimulus (e.g food) which produces an unconditioned response(salivation). Unconditioned stimulus together  with conditioned stimulus(bell) produces the salivation (unconditioned response). While, conditioned stimulus (bell) produces the conditioned response(salivation).

Here, Pavlov was interested in studying reflexes, when he saw  that the dogs drooled without the proper stimulus. Although no food  was in sight, their saliva still dribbled. It turned out  that the dogs were reacting to lab coats. Every  time the food was on its way whenever they saw  a lab coat. In series of experiments, Pavlov then tried to figure  out how  these phenomena were linked. For example, he struck  a bell when the dogs were  fed. If the bell was sounded in close association with their meal, the dogs learned  to associate  the sound the bell with food.

2.2 John B Watson(1878-1958)


John B. Watson is the important contributor to classical behaviorism . Here, he studied the behavior of animals. Watson’s approach was influenced by Ivan Pavlov who concerned in Classical  conditioning. Classical conditioning  is the process of reflex learning. Here, Watson’s approach emphasized in the role of stimuli in producing conditioned responses. For this reason, Watson may describe it  as an S-R(Stimulus-Response).

2.3 B.F Skinner(1904-1990)

B.F Skinner is American behaviorist whom develop a system based on operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is the idea  that we behave the way we do  because this kind of behavior  has had certain consequences in the past. In operant conditioning there is reinforcement of the behavior  by giving reward or punishment.

   Positive reinforcement shows by giving reward to increase the response.

   Negative reinforcement shows by giving punishment to decrease response.

The greatest contribution of B.F Skinner was his description of effects of reinforcement on responses. Here, the learning of behavior based on reinforcement has taken place in the past, so that the antecedent of the new behavior includes the consequences of previous study.

In this case, the experiment with operant conditioning by using rats and pigeons. For example, while a rat might press a lever with its left paw or its right paw or its tail, all these responses operate on the world  in the same way and have a common consequence .The other example is the pigeon . Taught the pigeons how to bowl through operant conditioning.

2.4 Conclusion

Behaviorism  is a theory that measures the observable behaviors that produced by a learner’s response to stimuli. Knowing or reward is given for the correct response to stimuli, while punishment is given for  incorrect response to stimuli. The behaviorism is primarily associated with Pavlov (classical conditioning)in Russia and J.B Watson. While, B.F Skinner in United  States(operant conditioning). The two types of possible conditioning that  are  classical and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning using reflexes found in nature while operant conditioning is introducing  new reflexes through reinforcement. Here, conditioning is the center of learning. Behavior is shaped through reward or punishment for certain responses.



Brown, H Doughlas.(2000).Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, Fourth Edition.Son Fransisco:Addison Wesley Longman,Inc

Http://[ accesed on 15/09/12]

Http://[accesed on 15/09/12]

Http://[accesed on 15/09/12][accesd on 15/09/12]