State-of-the-Art Article: A Systematic Review of Discourse Analysis in English as a Foreign Language: Focus on Iranian Context

By Jodaei, Hojat; Ghaniabadi, Saeed | Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods, June 2015 | Go to article overview

State-of-the-Art Article: A Systematic Review of Discourse Analysis in English as a Foreign Language: Focus on Iranian Context


Jodaei, Hojat, Ghaniabadi, Saeed, Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods


Introduction

"Discourse analysis" (DA) or discourse studies, developed in 1970s, are used to describe various activities related to different disciplines of sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, philosophical linguistics, computational linguistics, education, anthropology, cultural studies, international relations, human geography, communication studies, and translation studies. In another attempt, Abrams and Harpham (2005) mentioned that discourse analysis "concerns itself with the use of language in a running discourse, continued over a number of sentences, and involving the interaction of speaker (or writer) and auditor (or reader) in a specific situational context, and within a framework of social and cultural conventions " (p. 134).

There are two forms of discourse analysis: descriptive analysis and critical analysis. These two concepts refer to the analysis of language in use through analyzing linguistic forms (the linguists' function) and also the aim or functions to construct those linguistic forms (the discourse analysts' function) that relates to the content of the language being used. Meanwhile, Gee (2014) mentioned that "all discourse analysis is critical discourse analysis, since all language is political and all language is part of the way we build and sustain our world, cultures, and institutions" (p. 10).

As Jorgensen and Phillips (2002, p. 12) discussed, all discourse analytical approaches are agree on the following main points:

Language is not a reflection of a pre-existing reality.

* Language is structured in patterns or discourses - there is not just one general system of meaning as in Saussurian structuralism but a series of systems or discourses, whereby meanings change from discourse to discourse.

* These discursive patterns are maintained and transformed in discursive practices.

* The maintenance and transformation of the patterns should therefore be explored through analysis of the specific contexts in which language is in action.

The current study aims to investigate some areas of discourse analysis as: classroom discourse, discourse markers, critical discourse analysis, and teacher discourse with a view to the Iranian works done in these realms.

Methods

Because the purpose of the current review was to investigate the discourse analysis studies in the Iranian EFL context, we included the studies that met the following eligibility criteria: (a) the study was conducted in Iran, (b) the study involved discourse analysis, and (c) English was the target language in the class. The methodology used in the current study was through classifying the studies based on different criteria (classroom discourse, critical classroom discourse analysis, teacher's discourse, and discourse markers) and comparing the findings of Iranian studies with those of international ones.

Classroom Discourse

Classroom language is important as it is the medium through which the education is transformed. Classroom discourse, as a special type of discourse received a significant attention in the late twentieth century. Murnane and Levy (1996) mentioned that this increase in the attention is due to the -new basic skills" required for high-wage jobs include -the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing" and -the ability to work in groups with persons of various backgrounds" (p. 32). Behnam and Pouriran (2009) mentioned that classroom discourses are different in form and function and they have some special features include: unequal power relationships, turn-taking at speaking, patterns of interaction, etc." (p. 118).

The important issue in investigating classroom discourse is paying attention to the patterns of teacher talk. Ellis, McCartney and Bourne (2011) mentioned three findings resulted from the studies done in this realm: "(i) the way teachers and pupils talk in the classroom is crucially important, but (ii) the dominant pattern of classroom discourse is problematically monologic, so (iii) it should be replaced with more dialogic models" (p. …

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