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CITATION
Damianova, M. K., & Sullivan, G. B. (2011). Rereading Vygotsky's Theses on
Types of Internalization and Verbal Mediation. Review of General Psychology, 15, 344-350.

Rereading Vygotskys Theses on Types of Internalization and Verbal Mediation

Maria K. Damianova
Monash South Africa, A Campus of Monash University,
Australia

Gavin Brent Sullivan


Leeds Metropolitan University and Monash University

Abstract
The Vygotskyan sociocultural approach to human development and cognition marked a new
direction in psychology and created new, distinctive avenues for exploring fundamental
matters of the mind. The complexity, diversity, and multilayered meaning of Vygotskys
formulations have in the history of psychology triggered scholastic debate, which has focused
on the clarification, implications, and extension of the core explanatory constructs of his
frameworkmediation and internalization. The aim of this review is to offer a contemporary
logico-semantic rereading of Vygotskys formulations of theseconstructs with an emphasis on
speech and, in particular, its dual mediatory role as a primary meditational means and a
mediating process. Vygotskys less renowned, and rather incomplete, propositions on the
types of internalization are revived and examined in relation to the ontogenetic formation of
speech. In this critical analysis, some ambiguous conceptual links between the notion of
internalization types and the transformation of social speech into private speech and inner
speech are explicated, debated, and refined. By addressing these conceptual links, the present
examination extends the sociocultural account of semiotic mediation. The interpretations
proposed highlight the logical cohesion and enhance the comprehensibility of Vygotskys
theoretical stance on human development.
Keywords: Lev Vygotsky, internalization, semiotic mediation, private speech, sociocultural
approach

Vygotskys work, in its diversity and innovation, is justifiably described as


revolutionary because, at the time, it introduced entirely novel explanatory principles and
challenged previous epistemological assumptions about human development and cognition
(Cole & Wertsch, 1996). The philosophical substance that Lev Vygotsky brought to the study
of development, and his prolific contribution to the philosophy of human consciousness,
position him as a philosopher in his own right (Bakhurst, 2007). Many of Vygotskys views
on the genesis and formation of higher mental functions; on the processes of mediation,
internalization, and mastery; and on the role of speechin its different formsas a mediator
of human praxis and human consciousness have gained recognition that surpasses the
constraints of a particular historical context (Daniels, Cole, & Wertsch, 2007). Vygotskys
fundamental premises of the historical essence and the sociocultural foundations of human
existence continue to guide contemporary research and epistemological enquiries across a
wide spectrum of disciplines (Fernyhough, 2008; Garton & Pratt, 1998; Valsiner, 2001). The
significance of Vygotskys work is well recognized, as evidenced by his ranking in the top
20% of the most eminent scholars in psychology (Haggbloom et al., 2002).
His ideas, although formulated in the early twentieth century, continue to be a source
of inspiration for contemporary scholars as well as a challenging conceptual arena for
debating developmental issues (Meshcheryakov, 1999, 2007). A contemporary understanding
of Vygotskys ideas requires a consideration of the intellectual climate at the time he was
working (Berducci, 2004); it necessitates going beyond the surface of texts (Meshcheryakov,
1999, 2007) and entails perpetual intellectual engagement with the subtle and multilayered
meaning of his writing. In light of these issues, Meshcheryakov (1999, 2007) has advanced
the view that Vygotskys work is, and will remain, amenable to logico-semantic analysis. The
purpose of such an analysis would be to enunciate the general construction of Vygotskys

theory, to identify the logico-semantic correspondence and incongruence between concepts


and terms, and finally, to create a thesaurus of the entire theory.
In addition to the conceptual diversity within Vygotskys own work, a further,
partially language-based empirical and theoretical diversification prevails within the broader
Vygotskian-based body of knowledge that has accumulated to date (Rieber & Robinson,
2004). In recent decades, substantial conceptual elaborations of Vygotskys views have been
generated in contemporary Russian psychology, but the extensions and interpretations of
Vygotskys work published in Russian have not necessarily been incorporated into the work
of the English-speaking scholars. As a result, there exist disparate readings of Vygotsky
disparate empirical priorities, approaches, and trends within as well as between the
investigative philosophies and cultures of Russian and of non-Russian origin. Contemporary
examinations of Vygotskys stance on internalization are an illustration of this disparity. For
instance, in the Russian school of psychology, the notion of an internalization typology is
considered an integral part of the sociocultural conceptual framework (Meshcheryakov, 1999)
and has been addressed in recent explorations (e.g., Senushtenkov, 2006). Contrastingly, in
Western psychology, this theme has not been the focus of theoretical or empirical work by
prominent neo- Vygotskyan scholars (e.g., Cole, 1999; Wertsch, 2007; John-Steiner, 2007;
Kozulin, 1986, 2005; Hedegaard, 2007; Van der Veer, 2007; and others.). This is despite the
fact that many of the contemporary advancements in the notions of cultural mediation and
internalization have arisen from the work of these scholars.
As a process that brings about the genesis of higher mental functions, internalization
occupies the central position in the sociocultural construal of human development.
Accordingly, the defining features of internalization in Vygotskys work have been
perpetually analyzed, reexamined, and reinterpreted, resulting in an accumulation of openended and diverse, yet related, formulations. The same applies to the notion of semiotic

mediation and, particularly, to speech with its multiple rolesas a mediatory tool and
mediating process, and as a culturally mediated higher mental function. However, the
cohesion within and between the formulations on these themes is not necessarily apparent, as
they were derived from different premises, served different primary objectives, and were
generated at different historical stages of Vygotskys scholarly endeavor. Thus, the task of
reexamining and elucidating the logical and conceptual links of Vygotskys central ideas on
internalization, particularly with reference to speech, remains germane. The aim of this
review is to critically examine, by means of logico-semantic analysis, Vygotskys theses on
the types of internalization, with a specific focus on speech as the primary mediator. The
conclusions should guide contemporary theorists and empirical psychologists through a
conceptually driven reinvigoration of sociocultural research.
Speech as the Primary Mediator
Mediation encompasses the use of signs and tools, which are socially and culturally
meaningful things (Kozulin, 2005, p. 104). It determines the in-depth transformation of the
natural, biologically determined functions into newly generated cultural forms of mental and
behavioral activities (Meshcheryakov, 1999, 2007).
Vygotskys (1978) thesis of two lines of development (Cole & Gajdamaschko, 2007)
contains the notion that the formation of these distinct kinds of functions evolves due to
different determinants and is governed by different principles. Biologically determined
functions are governed by the mechanisms of adaptation developed by particular species as
a result of evolution and natural selection (Karpov, 2005, p. 18). In contrast, higher mental
functions are the product of socially evolving mediation (Cole, 1999; Meshcheryakov, 1999,
2007; Mirolli & Parisi, 2011). Given these differences, their relationship is not merely
interactive but hierarchical. Cultural or higher mental processes are a dialectical negation of

biological determinants, and, as such, they are not a simple addition but a qualitatively
different, superseding layer within the human psychological mode of being.
The vital importance of signs and tools for sociocultural development, irrespective of
their particulars, resides in the meaning encoded in them (Knox & Stevens, 1993; Valsiner,
2001). Speech and language, as well as mnemonic techniques and numerical systems, are all
exemplars of sign systems (Cole & Scribner, 1978; Kozulin, 2005). The range of semiotic
phenomena further includes works of art; writing; schemas; diagrams; maps and mechanical
drawings (Vygotsky, 1981, p. 137). As a system of signs, speech exhibits all the generic
properties of the sign systems, but as a particular type, it demonstrates its own unique
structural and functional features. Speech, in its different forms, is always culturally mediated
and culturally specific, but it also holds the utmost significance among the other mediating
systems and the higher mental functions because it is simultaneously a mediated function and
a mediating sign system (Kozulin, 1986).
This duality of speech has been recognized and further explored by Wertsch (2007),
who has argued that in Vygotskys writing, two types of mediation may be distinguished,
namely, explicit and implicit types. According to Wertsch (2007), explicit mediation refers to
the use of purposefully introduced external auxiliary aids in the performance of cognitive
operations. Wertsch (2007) regarded this type of mediation as inherent to those conditions,
which are characterized by the use of signs that facilitate the organization (p. 181) of an
activity. He specifically referred to Vygotskys (1978) well-known functional method of dual
stimulation1 to illustrate the nature of the explicit mediation. Further examples include any
practices where signs or tools are incorporated into the structure of an activity and enable the
performance of that activity at a new, higher level (e.g., memorizing through the reliance
upon external auxiliary means, such as cards with pictorial representations or tying a knot).

In contrast, implicit mediation encompasses the role of speech and language for
mediating human consciousness. The core feature of implicit mediation is that it is based
upon signs, especially natural language, whose primary function is communication
(Wertsch, 2007, p. 181). This stance warrants a clarifying comment.It is important to recollect
that Vygotskys (1978) analyses have recognized language as both a means of communication
and as an artifact. In exploring the role of the systems of signs as means of mediation, he
specifically stated that differentiation between tools as a means of labor of mastering nature
and language as a means of social intercourse become dissolved in the general concept of
artifacts or artificial [cultural] adaptation (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 53).
A consistent feature of Vygotskys writing is the acknowledgment that language (and
speech), like other mediational means, is used as an auxiliary aid for the facilitation and deep
reconstruction of the performance of an activity. Hence a written, spoken-out loud or covert
word may stand in for, and take on the role of, the knot or a card in memorizing. This role of
language was further explored in Lurias (1963, 1966, 1973) renowned work on remediating
executive dysfunctions caused by frontal lobe damage.
In light of Vygotskys stance on language as a living texture of human thought and as
a sign system or mediational means, Wertschs (2007) proposition for differentiating between
explicit and implicit mediation may be expanded upon as follows. Speech may be
conceptualized as a plane of convergence between the two types of mediation, rather than as
representing the implicit type only. As a system of linguistic signs existing objectively, it
should be viewed as the means of explicit mediation. However, as a realm of words that
permit generalization and discrete sequential representation (Wertsch, 2007, p. 183), speech
has to be regarded as an instrument facilitating the implicit mediation. It is therefore argued
that this dialectical unity of mediational variations embedded in speech determines its status

as the primary means by which the sociocultural and the historical mediation of the human
mode of being occurs (Cole & Scribner, 1978).
In the ontogenetic evolution of this mediation, the ongoing question is how
sociocultural products and practices manage through social interaction to get from outside
into inside repertory of thought (Bruner, 1997, p. 66), and how the processes of such
external-internal conversions evolve. Understanding the exact nature of the transitions and
transformations of the outer sociocultural- historical realm into inner realities, and vice versa,
still presents contemporary scholars with complex epistemological challenges and dilemmas
(Asmolov, 1998). The role of speech in these transitions is considered by the Vygotskyan
school of thought to be crucial. Speech is viewed as the primary mediator and as the process
that makes possible the conversion of the external into the internal (John-Steiner, 2007;
Lawrence & Valsiner, 2003; Mirolli & Parisi, 2011; Zinchenko, 2007), and the embodiment
or the exteriorization of the internal into the external (Lawrence & Valsiner, 2003). As a
mediational means, speech is the supreme instrument that allows for the sociocultural
transformation of mental functions and, as a mediating and mediated process, it evolves in
ontogeny in accordance with generic principles and stages of internalization, to be outlined in
the next section.
Internalization as a Generative Process
The core postulates of Vygotskys (1986) stance on the formation of higher mental
functions, including speech, are that they have social origins as sign-mediated activities and
are the product of the process of internalization. In Vygotskys view, internalization
constitutes the law of transformation of the external into internal (Meshcheryakov, 1999,
2007). The status of a law acknowledges the significance of the process of internalization
in ontogeny without restricting the scope for diversifying and expanding its theoretical
connotations. In some neo-Vygotskyan accounts, the multilayered essence of internalization

has been acknowledged. For instance, from the theory of mind stance (e.g., Symons, 2004),
it has been proposed that Vygotskys views allow for conceptualizing internalization on two
levels: as a process which encompasses the human universal dimension in development, and
as a process that entails the formation of internal representations that are specific to the
cultural and individual contexts.
Defined as the internal reconstruction of an external operation (Vygotsky, 1978, p.
56), internalization as both a universal and culture/individual-specific process contains: (a)
substitution of the initial, immediate, natural (biological) function; (b) its alteration as it
underlies and enters in the composition of the superseding higher mental function; and
finally, (c) the actual emergence of the new, higher order psychological formations
(Vygotsky, 2004).
The depth and the scope of these fundamental qualitative changes are reflected in
Vygotskys choice of the term metamorphosis (Stepanova, 2001) to describe this
developmental progression. A revealing metaphor used by Vygotsky to depict the intrinsic
transformative nature of the development of the higher mental functions in ontogeny is the
process whereby a pupa is converted into a caterpillar, and, in turn, into a butterfly. Similarly,
through internalization, one mode of a function or a stage in its formation is transformed into
another qualitatively different one. Such is the case when social speech transforms into its
ontogenetic successors or when externally mediated attention, memory, or any other higher
mental function convert into their internally mediated, volitional types.
In ontogeny, the metamorphosis of speechas it internalizesis evident in the
emergence of the distinct, yet interrelated, types of social, private, and inner speech. What
simultaneously connects and differentiates these different speech types is that they are stages
in the developmental continuum of the process of speech internalization. This continuum
encompasses the progressive inward shrinking of the most expanded external speech (social

speech) and its conversion into self-directed overt communication (private speech), whose
subsequent internal shifts culminate in the formation of the most intimate intrapersonal form
of speech (inner speech). The dynamics of these successive inward shifts are complex and are
thought to encompass a chain of structural and functional transformations between the
already evolved, the currently evolving, and the-about-to-evolve speech types. Vygotsky
(1986) described these dynamics as the schema of development [where] first social, then
egocentric then inner speech (p. 35) emerge. He argued that the origins of childrens social
speech lie in their communication with others, occurring in the context of their own activity
as agents, while the origins of private speech reside in social speech (Vygotsky, 1978).
Differentially, yet jointly, these speech types allow the products of the broader culturalhistoric systems to be incorporated into interpersonal social interactions (intersubjectivity)
and, subsequently, to be transmitted and integrated into the realm of the inner world or
intrasubjectivity (Bruner, 1997; Garton & Pratt, 1998; John-Steiner, 2007).
Internalization Typology
In addressing the question of the modus operandi of the reconstruction of mental
functions due to cultural mediation, Vygotsky (1994, 1997) proposed that it evolves
sequentially, following four stages: (a) a primitive level, when operations are carried out
naturally without any auxiliary aids; (b) a nave level, when auxiliary aids are introduced
by a social agent but their meditational utility and role is not yet known to, and grasped by, an
individual; (c) external cultural mediation, when an individual uses the auxiliary aids
competently and becomes cognizant of their role as aids for the execution of a particular
activity; and (d) internalization of the mediational link, when the use of auxiliary aids
becomes internal and operations are conducted within the internal realm.
In this developmental progression, the most complex transitionfrom the third
(external) to the fourth (internal) mode of mediationis achieved via three different types of

transformation of the mediatory link. These are the seam-type, the structure-type, and the
holistic-type,2 which represent the variable paths of shifting inward the use of the external
mediatory means in the execu tion of complex mental activities. Vygotsky first referred to this
inward advancement as in-growing, but he subsequently discarded this name and instead
adopted the term internalization. By some contemporary accounts (e.g., Senushtenkov, 2006),
this change was not accidental but reflected a new dimension in Vygotskys construal of
ontogenetic development as a process constituting the transformation not only of the external
into internal but also of the collective (social) into individual (psychological) realities.
However, such a distinction has not been widely accepted, as no specific clarification exists
in Vygotskys writing. Vygotsky himself used these terms interchangeably (Senushtenkov,
2006), which was also the case with many of the contemporary analyses (Russian) of his
work on internalization, including the current review.
Like many of his novel, revolutionary ideas, Vygotskys remarks on the different
internalization types also appear to have been a work in progress. His propositions on this
theme were only briefly outlined and remained incomplete, thus leaving substantial scope for
further refinement and extension. Contemporary scholars are therefore left with Vygotskys
rather sketchy and ambiguous notes on the types of in-growing and their relevance to the
different ontogenetic types of speech.
Vygotskys views on in-growing were formulated during the so called instrumental
period (1928 1930) and were initially presented in the Problems of the cultural
development of child (1928), and then in History of development of higher mental
functions (1931). The comments featured in these publications were woven into his
discussion of the mechanisms of the cultural transformation of psychological functions and
the conversion of external mediation to internal mediation. By Vygotskys own account, at
that stage of his work, he considered the ideas presented to have been only a first

hypothetical scheme of the path along which the cultural development evolves (Vygotsky,
1994, p. 66). As this hypothetical scheme was not integrated in his subsequent seminal
elaborations of semiotic mediation (e.g., in the Thought and Language publication in 1934),
it remained at the periphery of contemporary scholarly interest, especially outside the Russian
school of psychology. Recently, the theoretical importance of internalization types has been
revived in Meshcheryakovs (1999) and Senushtenkovs (2006) work, which has reclaimed
their central role and value for understanding the conceptual apparatus of Vygotskys
framework.
Vygotsky primarily discussed these types in the context either of arithmetical
operations (counting on fingers, aloud, or in the mind), or memorizing tasks, where auxiliary
means (cards) were introduced to assist the retention and recall of words, or to facilitate a
particular response to stimuli (e.g., pressing a key with a picture of a sleigh in response to a
picture of a horse). Although speech was not the primary focus in his discussion, it was
nevertheless implicated in the analysis as a function that is culturally mediated (i.e., higher)
and hence amenable to explanation in terms of the internalization typology.
The internalization of the seam type involves the connecting of a biological or natural
process, which is immediate in its essence, with a cultural sign, where the external
implementation of the sign gradually becomes no longer necessary (Vygotsky, 1994, p. 66).
The creation and utilization of such a link between an external sign and the mental operation
are evidenced clearly in memorizing tasks or in any other variations of Vygotskys dualstimulation method. In Wertschs (2007) terminology, this link was typified as constituting
explicit mediation.
Seam-type internalization encompasses the incorporation of various auxiliary aids in
the execution of a particular act, such as the use of numbers to establish quantities or the use
of words to signify entities (i.e., using the word cup to denote the object cup). This

internalization type is manifested when a particular sign or tool (whether a verbalized or


written word, or a memorizing aid) initially used as an external means becomes firmly
integrated within the internal constitution of a particular operation, function, or activity. After
it is introduced, the mediatory link may still be retained externally for some time, but as the
mastery of the operation increases, this external occurrence diminishes. The operation is then
carried out as if such a link is not involved. This is evident in conditions such as when, at
first, an external intermediary (e.g., a card or a verbal denotation) is employed for the purpose
of memorizing certain information. However, as soon as that information is retained, external
use of the intermediary falls away and then it seems like this retention has happened naturally,
on its own accord. In other words, on the surface, the act of memorizing appears as if to be
immediate, which disguises the fact that in reality it has become mediated.
The other type of internalization, defined as holistic, encompasses transfer of the
entire, once external, operation inward. With this type of internalization, no overt
manifestations occur. The operation comes to be carried out by internal means only, and the
auxiliary means, once used externally, are no longer made use of. The holistic type of
internalization is present, for instance, when a child switches from counting overtly (on her
fingers or aloud) to counting silently in her head in such tasks as establishing the number of
things in two heaps.
The next compound type of internalization, called the structure type, is attained when
mental functions become solely governed, executed, and mastered within the internal plane as
well as when they acquire their own intrinsic structural composition. When the latter occurs,
this is then used as a prototype for conducting other mental operations. In such cases, the
function (or operation) itself becomes an internal schemata that serves as the foundation for
performing other, more complex functions in the internal plane (Vygotsky, 1994, 1997). For
instance, the structure-type internalization is attained when the already acquired and fully

mastered operation of counting in the head becomes like an internal template for
conducting the adding of one-digit numbers in the mind, which, in turn, becomes the template
for the adding of two-digit numbers, and then for solving a relatively simple mathematical
equation in the mind.
Vygotskys premises were that the three types of internalization are generic in nature.
They are uniformly applicable to the ontogenetic development of all higher mental functions
and constitute the modus operandi of their progressive internalization. When applied to
speech, each internalization type may be seen as primarily represented by, and embodied in,
either social, private, or inner speech. From Vygotskys propositions on the defining features
of the different types of internalization, it can be inferred that the structure-type
internalization is particularly applicable to, and reaches its full representation in, inner
speech. This is so because this type of speech is the ultimate expression of the inner operation
of the mind as a whole; it forms the internal psychological foundation upon which the
mediation and internalization of other higher mental functions evolve. Inner speech
constitutes the stream of consciousness, which is publicly and socially generated, yet
privately and intimately owned by the person, and is distinguished by features of utmost
structural abbreviation and semantic condensation.
As for private speech, it resurfaces in Vygotskys (1997) writing that it may be aligned
with seam-type internalization. This assumption appears to be plausible if one juxtaposes the
schema of development of speech to that of other functions, specifically analyzed by him
(e.g., arithmetical reasoning). The reasoning is that first, this type of speech is, in part,
conducted externally (there are overt manifestations), and second, the words retained are used
in their capacity as symbolic representations. By analogy, just as a seam joins two distinct
entities, private speech connects an immediate, natural process of vocal expressiveness with
the use of signs (i.e., words).

When the complexity of the structural composition of private speech is examined,


then the features of the seam-type internalization become even more visible. Although
utterance fragmentation (predication) is considered to be a defining feature of private speech
(Vygotsky, 1986), and has been validated in contemporary empirical investigations with
children (e.g., Feigenbaum, 1992; Goudena, 1992; Winsler, De Leon, Wallace, Carlton, &
Willson-Quayle, 2003) and with young adults (e.g., Duncan & Cheyne, 2002), some further
unanticipated structural trends have been recently identified. Damianova (2009), for instance,
has shown that private speech is composed neither exclusively nor entirely of predicated
utterances but may also incorporate complete utterancesa trend indicating its structural
variation rather than structural homogeneity. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that this dual
structural mode is uniformly retained across the preprimary and primary school years
(Damianova, 2009). This suggests that the ontogenetic changes permeating the structural
organization of private speech are more complex than initially suggested by Vygotsky.
The conjecture advanced in the present analysis, therefore, is that private speech is
likely to represent a mixture of, and possibly also a cross-junction between, seam-type and
structure-type internalization. The seam-type internalization in private speech is present
primarily when complete utterance structures are used. However, it may also be manifested
through, and within, predicated utterances, as these are partially overt and partially covert. In
the predicated utterance structure, the external segments that have remained operate as the
ultimate expression of the signifying role of the respective words. This is so because, as
residuals, the words that are retained have absorbed, and thus inherently contain, an
additional dimension of significationwhat would have been carried out by the already
internalized utterance parts. For instance, when, in the context of an individuals problem
solving, a complete utterance, such as I need to find the yellow triangle, is reduced to, and
substituted by, the fragment yellow triangle, this predicated overt verbalization stands for

and embodies all the semantic and contextual connotations of the entire expression. As
residuals, the overt fragments represent the diminishing external presence of the link between
the mediator (the verbalized word) and the mediatee (the reality it denotes).
Consequently, the seam-type internalization exists in either the complete or
abbreviated overt expressions because the words that constitute them are used as signs,
specifically, as verbal units possessing individual meanings and representing, in symbolic
terms, the reality to the individual. In such instances, private speech aligns with social speech,
as both of them primarily and extensively make use of, and draw upon, the signifying power
of words. The dual (complete and fragmented) structuring in private speech and the structural
idiosyncrasy of predicated utterances afford the simultaneous retention and demise of the
external manifestations of the mediator-mediatee link (i.e., the typical feature of seam-type
internalization).
Structure-type internalization in private speech is evidenced in fragmented or
predicated utterances because they incorporate a portion that has already become covert. This
point can be clarified by considering Vygotskys (1986) seminal discussion of the distinction
between meaning and sense. It may be argued that rather than just being expressions of the
word-meaning alone, the external fragments in a predicated utterance serve as both the
material rudiments and carriers of the sense dimension. At the same time, the segments of
the fragmented utterances that are executed on an entirely internal plane operate as fairly
nonmaterial, fully developed, pure, and true sense units. With these covert segments
permeating the utterance structure and accounting for its predication, private speech is more
proximal to inner speech than social speech and aligns with the structure-type internalization.
To summarize, as external in appearance, complete, and/or partially overt, private
speech can be viewed as the carrier of the seam-type internalization. At the same time, as a
partially covert, internal in essence, abbreviated and semantically highly condensed type of

speech, private speech embodies the structure-type internalization. The seam-type and the
structure-type internalization find their ultimate expression and unification in the predicated
utterance structure because of its partial overtness and partial covertness. Given that the
predicated mode has been found not to be the sole, but nevertheless the prevalent, mode of
structural occurrence of private speech (e.g., Damianova, 2009) across diverse age groups
(preprimary and primary school years), it is reasonable to infer that the speech internalization
process is carried out and advances further through the operation of this mode.
The significance of Vygotskys (1994) original analysis of the types of internalization
is that it, first, highlighted how the mediational, sign-to-mental operation link becomes
instituted in individuals; second, showed how this link shifts from the external to the internal
plane; and finally, outlined the modifications of the mediational link emerging in the process
of this inward transition. The two markers of internalization that resurface in Vygotskys
(1994, 1997) writing, which were used to distinguish between each of the types of
internalization appear to be (a) the partial or complete absence of external manifestations of
the mediatory link, and (b) the extent of the incorporation of the mediating sign or tool into
the arising internal constitution of the operation undergoing mediation. Taken together, these
markers denote the dialectical submergence between the process of mediation and
internalization, whereby the mutual advancement of each is determined by the other. By
delineating the modification of the mediator-mediatee link in the process of the inward
advancement, Vygotsky took a step further in revealing how the transformation of the
biologically determined functions into the culturally or sign-mediated activities evolves.
Consequently, these remarks may be seen as an extension and refinement of his two-lines-ofdevelopment thesis.
Conclusions

This critical review focused on examining Vygotskys propositions on the types of


internalization, with the aim of explicating and reclaiming their theoretical significance and
their application to the ontogenetic formation of the higher mental functions, and speech, in
particular. The revision of Vygotskys theses on the seam-type, structure-type, and holistictype of internalization revealed their potential for clarifying the modus operandi of the
external-internal transformation. By addressing the ambiguous conceptual links between the
notion of internalization types and the conversion of social into private and then into inner
speech, the present examination advanced the sociocultural construal of semiotic mediation.
The analysis further demonstrated that many of the diverse and on-the-surface unrelated
Vygotskys writings on mediation, internalization, and formation of higher mental functions
are inherently cohesive. The threads of this conceptual unity originate in and are informed by
Vygotskys construal that these processes share a common denominatorthe human
sociocultural praxis.

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The method of dual stimulation is based upon the use of auxiliary aids to facilitate recall.

Using this method, Vygotsky (1978) examined how childrens memory and attention become
internally restructured as a result of using a set of colored cards as an instrument to aid the
memorization of certain information, e.g., list of words.
2

The translations of the terms vary from seam-like in-growing and complete in-growing

(Vygotsky, 1994, p. 66) to, respectively, seamtype revolution and revolution of the whole
(Vygotsky, 1997, p. 118). The terms used in this presentation are the authors free translation.