In situated learning, participation is crucial, since it is through participating in a community of practice that learners gain knowledge and skills. Newcomers to a particular community of practice begin with limited capacities for participation, placing them on the periphery of the group; as they take part in more group activities, they gain greater mastery and become more central members of the community.
Lave and Wenger's (1991) conception of legitimate peripheral participation is meant to describe the changes of engagement in particular social practices that entail learning. Thus, we can consider second language learners who demonstrate a change from limited to fuller participation in social practices involving their second (or additional) language as giving evidence of language development.
Zuengler & Miller, 2006