February 26, 2006

why should we read Michael Halliday?

the questions are:
Mark Lowe gives many reasons why he thinks English Language Teachers should know about Halliday's work. Which reasons do you find most convincing? are there any that you disagree with?

Convincing reasons:
1. Hallidays ideas explain the lg, do not merely describe it. they relate language to its function (how it is used in daily life)
this is influenced by his broad experience/knowledge in sociology.

2. metafunction: ideational (understanding the world), relating to other people (interactional), and how ideas are made coherent and logical (textual).
metacuntions is believed to enable learners to relate language forms to concrete functional needs (not abstract grammatical form). like we learn present tense, past tense, in isolation.. it makes us know the rules but not know how to use it.

November 15, 2005

communicative competence


Ika Lestari Damayanti

A Japanese man who just arrived in Coventry got a terrible car accident. Not long from the crash, a policeman came into the site and checked on the man who was greatly injured but somehow conscious.

“How are you, Sir?” asked the policemen attentively.
“I’m..fi..ne, Sir, thank..you. Nnn, and..you?” replied the man in pain.

Do they (the Japanese man and the policeman) speak in comprehensible English? It seems that there is almost no way to say the otherwise because the Japanese did not make any grammatical errors. He has indicated his ability to observe linguistic competence, i.e. knowledge of sentence structure, linguistic semantics (Hedge, 2000) but left out other components integrated as Communicative Competence. This imbalance has made this tragic story funny.
The term ‘communicative competence’
This paper highlights the term ‘communicative competence’ as theory as well as practice.
Varieties of methods and approaches to language learning have opened wide-range opportunities for teachers to choose the best method to be applied in their classrooms. From Grammar Translation Method to Audio-lingual Method and even current trend so called the Communicative Approach, they all seem to pursue similar goal, i.e. ability to communicate in the target language.

The ability to communicate in English becomes important as it is used as the international language
•many countries including Indonesia strive to introduce English in school
•changing curriculum in order to make English learning and teaching successful
•goal to be able to communicate effectively in TL
Hedge, Tricia. 2000. Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press

October 27, 2005


Follow-up to Writing: Texts, Processes and Practices from Ika's blog

"Researching the writer-reader relationship"
Roz Ivanic and Sue Weldon

Writing consists of three interlocking dimensions:

  1. the written text itself
  2. the social interaction which surrounds the production of the text
  3. tge sicuo-cultural context within which this soical interactin takes place

Note: at first, I was confused why this chapter mainly consits of dialogue between its writers. Later on, I found out that it's quite interesting that a serious academic writing can be also presented in a dialogic way.

Roz began to see writing as an act of self-representation.
(Read more)
Goffman. 1969. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press.

Interaction in writing: principles and problems
Greg Myers


note: I like the way he starts his article by saying:
It seems obvious enough to say that writing is used for interaction, like saying walking is used for locomotion, sexual intercourse for reproduction, and cooking for nourishment.

writers and readrs think of each other, imagine each other's purposes and strategies rightly or wrongly, and write or interpret the text in terms of these imaginations.

My note:
For example, when we come across with a text which is difficult to understand, we as the reader try hard to figure out what the text want and try to relate it our own life. also vice versa, when we want to write something, let's say a brochure, we think about our target reader and try to make our purpose is well written so that the target readers can undrstand it.

Some principles influencing this process is:

  • Cooperative Principles by Grice
  • Politeness Theory by Brown and Levinson
  • Reciprocity Principle Nystrand

CP is not a statement of what participants should do, or even what they actually do, but of what they must each assume the other to be doing, for the conversation to go on (Thomas, 1995: 62). When Hearers interpret Speakers, they assume that the Speaker must be thinking of what the Hearer needs next.

Brown and Levinson. 1987.
model of politeness.
They suggest that interaction necessarily involves a number of Face Threatening Acts (FTAs), such as blaming, requesting or apologizing.

the application of B&L's model go far beyond the sorts of furmulas of etiquette that most people think of politeness, and far beyond their original application to conversation.

The Principles of Grice, Brown, Nystrand (Reciprocity Principle: writing as interactive only when we recognize that both Writer and Reader approach the text with 'mutual co-awareness) give discourse analysts a way of reconstructing interaction from specific features of texts. the assumptions are:

  • W&Rs are strategic valves, calculating choices or interpretations of choices in line with singular aims, matching the form to given functions of the text, or functions to the given forms.
  • interpersonal elements are seen as modifications of a basic message or content for greater effectiveness, standing out against unmarked forms.
  • society or given community functions as a body of norms to which individual W&Rs turns as a background for interpretation
  • the task of the analysist is to generate possible categories of forms and functions, and base interpretation on the relations between these categories.
  • explanations of these form/function relations may draw on social practices, cognitive processes, communicative efficiency, or institutional structures.

I think the following statements have to do with mutual co-awareness.
The discourse community provides a set of norms or conventions concerning textual forms, roles, acts. Writers internalize these norms, and draw on them and on their Reader's awareness of them, in producing texts, and Readers draw on these norms, and Writers' awareness of them, in interpreting texts.

Linking: coherence (the semantic links between clauses) and intertextuality (the links between texts: the links between verbal text and pictures, define a possible form of interaction)
coherence is not just a property of a text, but is a social relation between W&Rs based on shared knowledge.

Pedagogical implication:
1. since these analyses start with assumptions about function and form, the are more useful in introducing students to academic texts, or outsiders to a ny new genre, such as grant proposals, software documentation (P.55).
2. we have something to teach writers (coursework essay, university prospectus, bureaucratic report) about the complex interactions represented in texts, and such teaching may help them write considerably more readably and effectively (p.61)

October 23, 2005

Writing: Texts, Processes and Practices

Candlin, C.N. & K. Hyland. 1999. Writing: Texts, Processes and Practices. Essex: Addison Wesley Longman Limited.

texts are multidimensional constructs requiring multiple perspectives for their understanding. writing is more than the generation of text-linguistic product.

writing as text is thus not usefully seperated from writing as process and interpretation, and neither can easily be divorced from the specific local circumstances in which writing takes place nor from the broader institutional and socio-historical context which inform those particlar occasions of writing.

my wordings:
TEXTUAL APPROACH sees textual variation and similarity in terms of lexico-grammatical and discursice patterining, as particular genres.

INTERACTIVE APPROACH sees text as a product of interaction between writer and readers. therefore, some perspectives taken into account are:

  1. face (Brown and Levinson, 1987)
  2. implicature and the maxims of interpretation and politeness (Grice, 1975, Leech)
  3. mechanisms for conveying newness of information and appealing to shared knowledge (Prince, 1992)
  4. predictive models of discourse coherence based on schemata and scripts (Schank and Abelson, 1977, van Dijk and kintsch, 1983).

constitutes local context

SOCIAL AND INSTITUTIONAL PRACTICES sees discursive conventions as authorised and valued by social groups and, institutional sites, or discourse communities. This approach considers the overall framework of social meanings and socially based ideological schemata inscribed in its creation and interpretation.

Bhatia, V.K. "Integrating products, processes, purposes and participants in professional writing"


Bhatia differentiates between professional writing and academic writing. Academic writing is:

  • often undertaken in the context of classroom
  • meant to serve a given set of communicative purposes, for a specified single readership

Professional writing:
a complex, dynamic and multifunctional activity

generic integrity
genre has generic integrity which is often perceived in applied genre literature in terms of typical lexico-grammatical and discourse patterns, simply because these are the most obvious surface-level linguistic features of textual genres.

Bathia (1993) generic integrity is a reflection of the form-function relationship that so often characterises a generic construct. On the one hand, this relationship between formal and functional aspects of language use reflects a specific cognitive structuring to the genre, on the other hand, it also reflects the communicative purpose(s) that the genre tends to seve.

Indicators of generic integrity:

  1. the rhetorical context in which the genre is situated
  2. the communicative purpose(s)
  3. cognitive structure that it is meant to represent

learning to write professional genre is more like being initiated into professional or disciplinary practices than like learning to write in the academy. It is not simple a matter of learning the language, or even learning the rules of the game, it is more like acquiring rules of the game in order to be able to exploit and manipulate them to fulfil professional and disciplinary goals within well-defined and established contexts.

my general comment on Bhatia's article: i don't like the way he writes his essay. it's just too complicated and not reader-friendly. but perhaps, because I don't like the subject.

Myers, Greg. "Interaction in writing: principles and problems"
mostly sees a text as interaction between writer and reader conforming to cooperative principles, politeness.

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