Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL)
Discourse Analysis in the Reading Class
Author(s): Amy Lezberg and Ann Hilferty
Source: TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Mar., 1978), pp. 47-55 Published by: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3585790 .
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Vol. 12, No. 1
DiscourseAnalysis in the Reading Class*
Amy Lezberg and Ann Hilferty
Generally, successful intermediate and advanced students emerge from their ESL classes with strong control of grammarand syntax, and a certain familiarity with idiomatic and colloquial usage. Often, however, these students continue to experience difficultieswith English because they limit themselves to literal decoding and coding of language according to structure and semantics. Yet at no level of ESL can a student rely on syntax and vocabulary alone, even when aided by intuition, without regularly misunderstanding language situations.
Discourse Analysis can be useful to teachers and students in overcoming such problems. Unlike transformational
and structuralistanalyses of language,
Discourse Analysis focuses on linguistic units above the rank of clause and on their sequences, and takes into considerationsituational context and existential meaning. The results of studies in Discourse Analysis by scholars in psychology, sociology, and linguistics are particularlyapplicable in the language classroom, most obviously in refining teacher/student interaction, in teaching the ability to participate in discourse, and in analyzing discourse in writing.
This paper describes two specific applications of Discourse Analysis: (1) at the intermediatelevel, providing tools for the teacher and (2) at the advanced level, providing tools for the student. Although Discourse Analysis is emphasized as pedagogy in the first instance and as class content in the second, it functions as both at each level.
Unlike transformational and structural analyses of language, Discourse Analysis focuses on linguistic units above the rank of clause and on their sequences and takes into consideration situational context and existential meaning. To a great extent, recent work in Discourse Analysis has seemed particularly useful for two groups: for researchers it has facilitated the description of generalized exchanges and conversations, through the examination of such aspects as turn-taking, cohesion, closure; for materials' developers, it has contributed to the organization and structure of programs and textbooks aimed at ESL/EFL students in such specific disciplines as economics (University of Colorado/ Boulder), science and technology (University of Washington/Seattle), and medicine (Oxford University Press/English in Focus Series). In all of these instances, ESL students themselves, although the ultimate consumers of the materials, are not necessarily expected to understand the underlying principles * This
paper was presented at the 1977 TESOL Convention in Miami Beach, Florida. Ms. Lezberg is Assistant Professor of English and ESL Coordinator, Massachusetts Colleges of...
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