ZPD could be used as a powerful vehicle for foreign language speech development and language scaffolding* could serve as a bridging means for children to learn foreign languages more effectively and efficiently.
Constructivism argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from their experiences. For Constructivism, learning is an active process in which learners:
This is closely related to another theory the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) by Psychologist Lev Vygotsk and defined as “the difference between a child's actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving” and the child's “potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers”.
In other words, ZPD refers to that sweet spot where teaching is most beneficial for each student—just beyond their current level of independent capability. You can think of ZPD as the difference between what a child can do independently and what they are capable of doing with aid or assistance (scaffolding).
If we apply this theory to teaching and learning a second language, we can say that when a student is at the ZPD for a particular task or activity, providing the appropriate scaffolding will give them enough of a "boost" to achieve it. Once the student, with the benefit of the scaffolding, masters the task, the scaffolding can then be removed and the child will then be able to complete the task again on his own.
The main idea of the Zone of proximal development is that a person with more knowledge (it can be the teacher or a more advanced student) can enhance a student’s learning by guiding them through a task slightly above their aptitude. As the learner gains more competence, the teacher or peer steadily stops guidance until the learner becomes able to do the task by themselves
According to Applebee (1986) for scaffolding to be effective the task / activity must allow students to make their own contribution. This means tasks should build upon the knowledge and skills the student already possesses, but should be difficult enough to allow new learning to occur.
Teaching in the zone of proximal development is important because children are often presented with language material and activities that are either too easy (and they end up losing interest) or too challenging (and they get frustrated). In either case, no real learning is taking place. Teaching in the ZPD means that the teacher is presenting tasks that are just challenging enough to help them develop new skills by building on those that have already been established. As well as, interesting and engaging. Students are most receptive to instruction within their ZPD because it represents the next logical step in their ongoing skill development.
As a language teacher of English and Spanish, I have thoroughly enjoyed finding in my students those ‘sweet spots’ that are in the zone of proximal development. It melts my heart when the light bulb of learning dings, and I can see progress being made.