Learning a new language is challenging for anyone who isn’t used to speaking the language. This is particularly true when they are not practicing the language regularly. Keep on reading to find out all the details you need to know about discourse when it comes to learning a language.
For instance, non-English speakers may not find it easy to learn the language if they don’t speak it often. As a TEFL teacher, you would likely find this to be true. This is the reason why you encourage your students to practice speaking English while in class.
This makes discourse an important component in language learning.
But, you may be wondering what discourse is all about and what role it plays in language learning. Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll discuss what discourse is and how come it’s important in language learning.
What is Language Learning?
Before we talk about discourse, let’s discuss what language learning is so we’ll all be on the same page. Language learning is the act of developing the ability to communicate in a second or a language different from one’s own native tongue.
In the context of a TEFL teacher, language learning is the result of direct instruction on the use of the English language. It basically provides comprehensible input to the students while getting comprehensible output in return. It also involves giving feedback to identify any errors of the students to ensure they make the necessary changes to correct them.
On the part of the students, it’s basically gaining the ability to use a second language as a means of communication. It also allows them to express themselves and understand when they’re spoken to using the foreign language.
In order for them to do all of these, they need to practice communicating back and forth, whether it’s through writing or speaking.
This is where discourse comes in when you’re talking about language learning.
What is Discourse?
Do you constantly communicate with a family member or a friend? Do you communicate through writing or do you speak with them? Well, whether it’s through writing or speaking when you communicate with a family member or a friend, you are participating in discourse.
Strictly speaking, discourse is written or spoken communication. Some consider discourse to be a unit of language that is no shorter than a sentence.
But, discourse can also be a single word or two words that communicate a comprehensible concept. Words and phrases like “No Smoking” or “Stop” can also be considered discourse since they communicate a concept or an idea that the receiver or the reader can understand.
For this reason, discourse essentially entails communicating an idea or concept from one person to another. It can be a single word to an entire novel. It is the way language is used to convey meaningful ideas.
Discourse can be viewed in several ways based on context. But, for our purposes, we will focus on discourse in the context of language learning.
Discourse in English Teaching
When it comes to language learning, discourse is a system of language that is coherent and has a purpose. While some may say it’s more than a single sentence, as indicated earlier it can be a single word or a phrase that conveys a comprehensible concept.
Studying discourse will give you an idea of the form and function of language within a conversation. It doesn’t focus on small grammatical details but looks into how large units of language give a conversation more meaning.
Taking these points into consideration, we can say that it is necessary for your students to understand the concepts you are teaching. In this case, you need to have a conversation with them in English so they will understand the language better. Moreover, it will also allow them to practice using English in a conversation.
But, as indicated earlier, it is not only limited to speaking since it also includes writing. This makes writing an important component in the learning process. Besides, learning how to read and write in English should be one of the goals you should set for your students.
Importance of Context
Even as discourse is essential for students to understand a language better by using it, it is also important for teachers to use a proper context when introducing any concept to the students.
The context should allow the students to connect the dots between a word and an item. For instance, when the teacher shows the picture of an apple and the written text “Apple,” the students will see the connection between the written word and the fruit.
Moreover, demonstrating the way the word is pronounced will allow the students to connect the written text and spoken word to the fruit.
This may be a simple way to show the importance of context when it comes to language learning, but you have to start somewhere. You can slowly build from these simple words until you reach a point when it comes in and your student will start to communicate in English be it written or spoken.
Taking all of the points mentioned above, you should be able to see the importance of discourse when it comes to language learning. It shows that practicing the language through a meaningful conversation will build an understanding of the language among your students in your TEFL class.
Have your Say about Language Discourse
Do you have any thoughts about discourse in language learning? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about it. We’d love to hear from you.
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