for teaching purposes
cursory glance over old and newly produced EFL coursebooks
attests to the assertion that too much reliance has been placed
on the traditional "text" format as the primary
source of information about how language is used and functions.
Here, it will be argued that English language teaching is
deprived of discourse as "live language" and "grammar
above the sentence," being characterised instead by a
slavish adherence to "form," which leads to stilted
language and other features that are not typical of natural
language use. Much of the discussion that ensues is based
on Millrood's article, "Discourse for Teaching Purposes"
(2002), which appeared in Research Methodology: Discourse
in Teaching A Foreign Language (Tambov State University).
can be defined as a pattern of verbal behaviour but, at the
same time, it can be viewed as a verbal form of social behaviour,
an instance of communicative language use, and the process
of unfolding an idea into a text (Brown & Yule, 1983;
Cook, 1989; Nunan, 1993). According to Millrood (2002), the
difference between discourse and text is that discourse is
a "live language," whereas a text is a "monument
to life." 'Discourse processes can certainly be reconstructed
from texts, but one needs insight and intuition in order to
interpret movement cast in stone' (ibid.). Many texts, however
perfect, fail to give readers a true picture of how language
works. A very serious problem in EFL teaching, which the present
paper sets out to explore, is the unfair representation of
communicative reality, which is mainly based on "perfect
texts" rather than on discourse processes. This means
that genuine communication is treated as 'movement cast in
stone', to hark back to Millrood's metaphor.
of discourse analysis
as "live language" can be analysed from at least
seven perspectives: context, clause, cohesion, coherence,
cognition, communication, competence (ibid.).
Context is a property of discourse, since no language can
ever be produced without a situational setting, i.e., a communicative
context. In both oral and written discourse, what is often
needed in order to follow and develop the message is for interlocutors
to constantly relate to a "shared context." This
element of discourse, however, is often neglected, with an
emphasis on grammatical accuracy and lexical correctness.
clause is another aspect of discourse analysis, since a "sentence"
as a meaningful unit of written texts does not exist in the
process of discourse production. Even written discourse processes
are unthinkable without twisting sentences as ways of looking
for a better form of expression. This process goes even further
in oral discourse, where clear sentence boundaries are rare.
Thus, clauses pay a far greater role in understanding discourse
cohesion helps understand the way discourse structure emerges.
Cohesion can be achieved by using formal devices, such as
conjunctions or the density of topical vocabulary.
is what makes the whole communicative piece hang together.
in discourse manifests itself in the very ideas that are produced
while and for communicating a message. Through discourse is
revealed the pattern in which the world is modelled in the
speaker's / writer's mind. Discourse discloses knowledge,
beliefs, doubts, attitudes and propositions.
communication aspect of discourse shows the nature of language-in-action,
which is less organised, produced under time pressure and
with a certain shared context that allows for the use of elliptical
structures, incomplete sentences, self-repairs, as well as
for other features of spoken discourse.
competence aspect of discourse not only concerns the degree
to which components of communicative competence emerge in
the course of communication, but can also be a manifestation
of competence in language users, if it functions as an observable
successful language behaviour leading to a target outcome
of communicative interaction.
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