Aug 072012

Test scores are sometimes poor representations of someone’s ability to communicate. I think many English teachers have come across students who would come out at say lower intermediate or B1 on a scale, and yet they’ve been able to communicate their ideas effectively – powerfully even – more so than many upper intermediate or B2 students. It’s always intrigued me. What are they doing that’s working so well? If we could bottle it up and pass it around we’d be able to solve a lot of problems for a lot of people.

Now obviously it might be about things we can’t teach like personality, intelligence… But I reckon there are other things going on too that we can help all our students with.

A lot of it is about the structure of ideas. Those able communicators are structuring their thoughts in ways that other people can easily follow. Often language teaching focuses on what happens at a word and sentence level (and that’s often what gets tested too). But what if we shifted our attention more to how ideas get structured over longer tracts of discourse?

Now of course some approaches have always done that. Genre approaches in ESP spring to mind and structure often crops up in business presentation courses. An area where discourse structure is really important is story telling.  As Aristotle explained….


Does storytelling feature in your English courses and would you like it to? And what other things do you do that focus attention on text organization and discourse?

 Posted by at 8:00 am

  One Response to “Discourse and storytelling”

  1. […] some ripping business yarns but I also get to feel really useful. It gives us the opportunity to focus on discourse and develop skills they can start putting to use right […]

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