Beyond mere communication

Ridge, Elaine (2000)

CITATION: Ridge, E. 2000. Beyond mere communication. Per Linguam : a Journal of Language Learning, 16(2):46-56, doi:10.5785/16-2-139.

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This article argues that language teaching must involve the systematic development ofdiscourses which will empower learners to use language effectively in particular situations.At present many language teachers concerned with teaching English as a second language(now generally referred to as English as an additional language in South Africa) operatewithin a communicative teaching paradigm and tend to be concerned chiefly with creatingopportunities for enjoyable interaction. It is also significant that textbooks written forteachers in training and textbooks for learners within the outcomes-based approach adoptedin South Africa have been more concerned with procedures than with the development ofdiscourse. Illustrations from observed classroom practice or .from textbooks are used tosupport these observations. This article argues that teachers have a responsibility forsystematic development both of concepts (those which relate specifically to the area oflanguage, as well as those which are mediated through language) and discourses so they canbecome strategic tools. In sum, in order for learners to be empowered to use language in thecomplex ways necessary for successful participation in a variety of contexts, they need togain an understanding of what particular social contexts require and to be able to select andproduce the appropriate social languages or discourses necessary.

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