Classroom Introduction- the Way Humans Essay

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Discourse Analysis in Language Pedagogy- Specifically, discourse analysis in the classroom has important applications in the areas of phonology, grammar, and vocabulary development.

Phonology -- Generally, phonology can be used to understand ethnic basis for what the student is bringing into the classroom. Within the classroom structure though, pronunciation and intonation are the most vibrant ways we can use Discourse analysis. Traditional pronunciation pedagogy breaks down each part of the sound and works within that microstructure to understand dialect. From a Discourse Analysis method, though, the problem becomes far more complex. What sound precedes, what sound comes after -- for when words and sounds follow each other in speech they may undergo considerable changes and modifications. What then happens is that depending on the way the word is said, isolated or comes in context a list of assimilations of elision (where sounds from the citation for are missed -- example most men, becomes mos-men in conversation). When in a language classroom though, discourse analysis can help us understand and correct these issues so that the learner understands the correct pronunciation during the novice or learning stage (McCarthy 1991).Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Essay on Classroom Introduction- the Way Humans Assignment

Grammar -- At its core, the methodology of discourse analysis is a way of conceptualizing language "in-use." Grammar is the way that sounds and words are structured (rules) that describe a particular language or group of speakers. Grammar evolves through usage and through the way populations are separated, so that specific forms of meaning can be ascribed to a way of thinking. Traditional grammar, or generative grammar, more of a modern Chomsky idea. This theory says that each sentence in a language has two levels of representation- a surface structure and a deep structure in which the similarities between languages, culture and thought occur (Chomsky 1965). Using a discourse analysis method places a more important role on both texts with which grammatical concepts are presented and the connecting role between the grammatical forms. "Knowing" grammar no longer means that one memorizes declinations and grammar facts, but the reasons behind the grammar and the way grammatical rules are used to convey meaning; context-dependent, mode, article use, etc. Once these basics are understood from an analytical point-of-view, discourse theory believes that there will be a greater understanding of the overall template of the grammar, and therefore a better understanding of the language in general. "Grammar…. Has a direct role in welding clauses, turns and sentences into discourse" (McCarthy 1991).

Vocabulary -- It is in the teaching of vocabulary that the discourse method excels. Vocabulary cannot be effectively taught out of context; it is only within a more macro environment of discourse that any intended meaning becomes clear. One might argue that there is a basic "dictionary" definition of a word, but the intended meaning of such words is not found until one finds a contextual approach. The word "tree," for example, has 18 dictionary definitions, with its most common dealing with a plant with a woody stem. If the context of the sentence was, "Mary saw a large, very old, apple tree," this definition would work -- in context. If, however, the sentence was, "Hank forgot that the complexities of this particular data set require a different set of rules for the programming tree," the meaning is quite different.

Thus, the meaning of the word, in this case, is not dependent upon rote vocabulary but on the actual phrase of use. This is particularly true when dealing with specialized vocabulary for the sciences; with specific uses for words not just specific meanings. To be effective teaching grammar in a discourse analysis method, sentence level examples are not always complex enough to provide enough back up for language learning. "What are needed are many fully contextualized examples…. To provide learners with the necessary exposure to and practice with else, a function word that is semantically, grammatically, and textually complex" (The Handbook of Discourse Analysis 2003).

Discourse Analysis and Language Skills -- There are two distinct processes when teaching language: 1) transmitting the ideas and intentions to others and, 2) interpreting and understanding the text/message produced by another speaker. Discourse analysis asks use to produce knowledge using strategies that help the learning speak or write, using formative assessments to understand if the audience is on track. When interpreting discourse we also combine strategies (listening, reading) while, at the same time, relying on our past experience to help put material in context as well as our anticipation of what we think might occur within the context of the sentence or paragraph. It is important that language teachers use both productive skills and interpretive events so that the inclusion of discourse becomes part of the paradigm of that language (Anthony et al. 2007).

Additionally, there are two types of learning/knowledge that are aided by the use of discourse analysis theory. Prior and shared knowledge, for instance, including repetitive skills, all involve activation of schematic and contextual knowledge. Schematic knowledge is usually defined as patterned knowledge -- something so innate that it just comes natural. A pattern is activated by certain expectations -- a person sees a dog running and will classify it as a Boxer, based on the past-or-prior knowledge (this is obviously a goal in teaching a language, the so-called "think in the new language" idea) (David, Shrobe & Szolovits 1993). The second type of knowledge assisted by discourse analysis is contextrual -- or the overall perception of what the learner hears, sees, or infers from the situation. This is more complex because it takes into account both the past and future, as well as subtle body-langauge signals and prior-knowledge. Language teachers can use discourse analysis to provide learners with a number of activities that stimulate both these types of knowledge, and move the new language into a part of the brain that allows one to analyze just what is happening in that language. During that process, "it is important that learners have the opportunity to combine… phonological signals…. Lexicogrammatical signals….. content organization…. And contextual features" (Schiffrin: 717).

Activities to Bolster Discourse -- For our purposes, there are three major tools that focus on the theoretical use of discourse analysis -- but in the more multi-disciplinary sense, and thus quite useful within the modern language classroom:

The Social Languages Tool -- Humans build language through more than just words; they use vernacular phrases, idioms, less common terms, and structures that are not necessarily technical, but understood and engaging. How one uses language is then interpretive of how one is perceived by peers (accepted within a group) or by the dominant culture (accepted use of language). Clearly this is constantly apparent in the contemporary world in which phrases like "down with it, " (I want to), "That be hap gear" (Those are nice clothes) are an accepted part of language, but not of the dominant culture. Use of phrases that are more social language are not part of the strict lexicon in a language classroom, but discourse analysis of those phrases can allow for a greater understanding of the cultural viability of language (Stubbs 1984)

The Intertextuality Tool - A relatively new form of theiry, intertextuality revolves around the shaping of texts' meaning by other texts. What other texts brought to the learner, what parts of other materials are then put into the language learner's toolbox. It can also mean that within a text an author uses another text as a literary means of providing a more robust scenario, as in John Steinbeck's retelling of the Genesis story in East of Eden, but setting in the Salinas Valley in Northern California. Using intertextuality in the language classroom also allows for interpretation and more discussion about the actual meaning of the text. Use of intertextuality in wrtiing allows for greater depth within the writing assignment, and a push towards real understanding of the new languge (Jesson 2010).

The Situated Meaning Tool -- Meaning is quite complex in language. It required interpretation as well as expectations. Psychologists still do not know how we construct meaning, but do understand that when learning a language, meaning must precede understanding. Again, by focusing on context, by applying the entire picture of the phrase, routine guessing becomes more of a theoretical approach to dialog, and therefore holds greater meaning. Drilling in different contextual uses forces the language learner to interrupt themselves cognitively, and to think about the manner in which shared meaning between people establishes a greater "true" meaning of the word or phrase (Gee 2010).

Conclusions - Traditional theorists, like Skinner, approached language learning as the manner in which verbal behavior is mitigated by the same controlling variables as any other operant theory (Skinner; (Michael 1984). For Skinner, language acquisition does incorporate verbal problems as dependent variables, but that old a certain common structure when analyzed vigorously, and indeed are the factors that are… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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