The analysis of classroom discourse is of value to teachers wanting to understand the dynamics of classroom communication, to discover “whether there is a proper equilibrium or an imbalance between real communication and teacher talk.” (McCarthy 1991). During my MS coursework, we learned about Sinclair and Coulthard’s conversation analysis model which struck me as a very useful tool to analyze classroom discourse. The three-tier model is particularly helpful in gauging the progress of teachers’ pedagogical goals and students’ learning in real time.
2.1 The Importance of Analyzing Discourse
The foremost claim about the importance of analyzing discourse is rooted in the role of language in society. The social relevance of discourse analysis is that the very choice or extension of the object or field of linguistic research—actual language use in its social context—already satisfies a condition of social relevance—it provides insight into the forms and mechanisms of human communication and verbal interaction (van Dijk, 1985). Discourse analysis provides an explicit account of the fact that discourse structures are multifarious and they change according to the context of interaction and communication. Thus, discourse analysis serves as an essential contribution to the ‘language in use’.
2.2 Classroom Discourse
As a language teacher, we need to be able to engage our learners with a variety of English text such as songs, newspaper, movies, websites, and so forth. If this is done, not only the learners are more exposed to a variety of discourses, they are also likely to be more motivated to learn since the language that they get is authentic as opposed to the inauthentic classroom books. Limiting the language...
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Sinclair, J. and Coulthard, M. Towards an Analysis of Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.
Sinclair, J. and Coulthard, M. “Towards an analysis of discourse”. Advances in Spoken Discourse Analysis. Ed. Malcolm Coulthard et al. London: Routledge, 1992.
Sinclair, J. and Brazil, D. Teacher Talk: Oxford University Press, 1982
Stubbs, M. Language, Schools and Classrooms. London: Methuen, 1976
Tsui, A. “A functional description of questions”. Advances in Spoken Discourse Analysis. Ed. Malcolm Coulthard. London: Routledge, 1992.
van Dijk, T. “Introduction: the role of discourse analysis in society”. Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Vol 4. London: Academic Press, 1985
Willis, D. “Caught in the act: using the rank scale to address problems of delicacy.” Advances in Spoken Discourse Analysis. Ed. Malcolm Coulthard. London: Routledge, 1992.
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