Teaching English as discourse: A challenge for the ELICOS classroom
Kettle, Margaret A. (2000) Teaching English as discourse: A challenge for the ELICOS classroom. EA Journal, 17(2), pp. 66-77.
This paper joins a growing number of calls for a more discourse-focused approach to teaching English. One call is coming from researchers such as Firth and Wagner(1997), Miller (1997) and Peirce (1995) who challenge Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theories which guide much of our English language teaching practice. They argue that these theories and our application of them in the language classroom regard language acquisition as the process of mentally acquiring separate bits of language and view the learner as deficit. They argue that language learning is about the acquisition of discourse because language as communication is essentially a set of contextually-situated discursive practices. They contest the notion of the learner as defective communicator and instead propose a view of the learner as successful communicator, utilising his/her available linguistic resources. The paper follows some of these arguments and contrasts the theoretical principles of a discourse approach to language acquisition with those of the traditional SLA approach. The discussion looks at the application of these principles in the English language classroom and joins the calls, also coming from English language teachers such as Petrovitz (1997) and Nunan (1998), for a discourse focus in areas such as teaching grammar.
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