Discourse Markers in the ESL Classroom:A Survey of Teachers’ Attitudes

| June 20, 2011
Discourse Markers in the ESL Classroom:A Survey of Teachers Attitudes

Keywords: Discourse Markers, Attitudes, Pedagogic Use, ESL Classroom

Loretta Fung
Lancaster University

Bio Data
Loretta Fung is currently editor of Academic Voice who founded a web-based initiative that offers language and research support to students and researchers in higher education. She also teaches EAP at Nottingham Trent International College, UK. She received her BA in Modern English Language from Lancaster University, MA in ELT and PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Nottingham. She taught English in Hong Kong and worked as ELT materials developer and project manager at the University of Hong Kong. Her research interests are in ELT pedagogy, corpus linguistics, discourse analysis and computer-mediated communication. She has published in a number of peer-reviewed journals that include Applied Linguistics, Multilingua, Language and Literature, and Linguistics and the Human Sciences.

There has been increasing research on the study of discourse markers (DMs) in terms of their pragmatic use. However, their pedagogic use in the ESL classroom has received less attention. This paper explores the attitudes of Hong Kong teachers towards the pedagogic values of DMs using a questionnaire (N=132), a reliability test, factor analysis, and interviews (N=3) with NS and NNS teacher-informants. Both the quantitative and qualitative results indicate a very positive perception of the pragmatic and pedagogic values of DMs by the subjects, where students at the intermediate-advanced level are challenged to acquire DMs for both receptive and productive purposes. The findings also reveal the underrepresentation of DMs in existing teaching materials and in subjects teaching. The study proposes the need to develop learners linguistic awareness of this aspect of spoken features to facilitate communication and suggests that DMs can be included as part of the lexical input in the ESL/EFL syllabus. The results have implications for utilizing corpora to exploit the polyfunctionalities of DMs in different contexts and across registers, modifying existing teaching materials and promoting professional involvement in preparing learners to develop more effective communication.

See pages 199-248

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Category: Main Editions, Volume 13 Issue 2