Alignment and interaction in a sociocognitive approach to second language acquisition

Dwight Atkinson, Eton Churchill, Takako Nishino, Hanako Okada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


This article argues for the crucial role of alignment in second language acquisition, as conceptualized from a broadly sociocognitive perspective. By alignment, we mean the complex processes through which human beings effect coordinated interaction, both with other human beings and (usually human-engineered) environments, situations, tools, and affordances. The article begins by summarizing what we mean by a sociocognitive approach to second language acquisition. We then develop the notion of alignment, first in terms of general learning/activity and next in relation to second language (L2) learning. Following that, we provide an extended example of alignment-in-action, focusing on the coordinated activities of a Japanese junior high school student and her tutor as they study English in their sociocognitively constructed world. Next, we speculate on possible uses of the alignment concept in L2 research and teaching, and finally we conclude by restating our claim - that alignment is a necessary and crucial requirement for L2 development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-188
Number of pages20
JournalModern Language Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this