Summary of wk6-wk7

Regulative/instructional discourse and reading summary

Summary of wk6-wk7

Keywords in wk6:

instructional discourse, regulative discourse, framing, power & control

Week 6 introduces two types of discourses in classroom. One is regulative discourse and the other is instructive discourse, which are two parts of pedagogic discourse. The pedagogic discourse in Bernstein’s term is about how discourse (s) functions in society to distribute, maintain, regulate power. It should be noted that the idea of pedagogic discourse in Bernstein’s (2000) sense is different from what it is usually understood as “instructional discourse”.

Regulative discourse:

Liu & Hong (2009) uses pedagogic language put forward by Bernstein (2000). Their quantitative corpus-based study examines the morpho-syntactic choice in teacher’s talk in Singapore primary English classrooms. In the mood system in the interpersonal function, one of three metafunctions of SFG, which I read in Halliday’s SFL theory, there are imperative, declarative and interrogative. From the strongest to the weakest degree, in imperative directives, there are bold, mitigated, prefaced and inclusive; in declarative directive, there are obligation, want/need, permissive, hint, wish; in interrogative, there are willingness/intention, feasibility/ ability and permission.

I notice there is a formula in this article: +power, +distance and +imposition. This is related to the notion of ‘power relation’. Most directives are uttered by the [+power] participants, creating a tendency for directives to be more rather than less direct in a hierarchy differential, occupying different status positions in personal forms or strategies in personal communication (Brown and Levinson 1987, p. 61-64). So, what I understand is that more direct =>teacher-centered practice; more indirect =>student centered practice.

What is found: the researcher found that the teacher used a considerable amount of direct rather than indirect requests and deployed a limited range of strategy realizations in the classroom interaction. The directives in these classrooms show a more limited linguistic variety than anticipated.

What is not found: three of the informal possibilities for indirect request realizations and syntactic downgraders such as could you…? Would you…? I’d like to V…?

Conclusion: the language environment in the classroom did not contain a rich variety of linguistic models for making ‘polite requests’ in English on the one hand, while on the other hand the pedagogic environment was still teacher-centered. The fixed hierarchical roles in the classroom gives students very little opportunity to negotiate what they are requested to do our utter directives themselves.

l Framing= instructional discourse (ID)/ regulative discourse (RD). Regulative discourse indicates the social order while instructional discourse indicates discursive order where actual features of discourse can be found. Dominance: regulative discourse. Instructional discourse is always embedded in regulative discourse.

Instructional discourse: it thinks about the organization of discourse in classroom/school.

Research questions of Hyland (2013) include: 1. how organization of discourse impacts student comprehension; 2. How lecturers use informality to convey information; 3. How lecturers use ‘involvement’ and ‘interactivity’.

Corresponding linguistic features that Hyland examines: 1. Multi-word clusters; 2. Rhetorical question; 3. Colloquial language; 4. False starts; 5. Definitions; 6. persona pronouns; 7. Evaluative language (the content, e.g. “It’s a problem…”)

Sociolinguistists who also talk about power and control in society may include but not confine to classroom discourse. Further readings on “power”, “control”, “dominance” and “manipulation” include:

Topic: Critical discourse analysis.


Blommaert, J. (2005). Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bloor, M., & Bloor, T. (2007). The practice of critical discourse analysis. An introduction. London: Hodder Arnold. (introduces methods)

Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and Power. London: Longman.

Fowler, R., Hodge, B., Kress, G., & Trew, T. (1979). Language and control. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Kramarae, C., Schulz, M., & O’Barr, W. M. (Eds.). (1984). Language and Power. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Journals: Discourse & Society (Sage), and Critical Discourse Studies (Routledge)

1. Han (2014) who talks about educational discourse in Chinese university is manipulated by the authority to reach certain goals;

2. Gill (2009) discusses the sex relationships in women’s magazine and outlines how power relations implied in the magazine discourse.

Week 7

keyword: reading sharing, methodologies

Students share the reading they have been assigned to and discuss the ideas in the article. This is a start for the methodology. The reading I was assigned is Chin (2006).

This article discusses verbal interaction for meaning-making in science classes. It talks about teacher questioning in triadic dialogue (IRE/IRF and possible uses of the third turn). Its theoretical framework is based on socio-cultural theory (Vygotsky 1978), classroom discourse and teacher control (Edwards & Mercer 1987), ‘authoritative’ and ‘dialogic discourse’ (Scott, 1998; Mortimer 7 Scott, 2000, 2003).


a) Teacher’s feedback in science class usually in forms of:1. Comment-question; 2. Statement-question. Both question type could overlap initiation of next IRF turn.

If there is no teacher question, that will be comment-statement or comment/statement only.

b) To evaluate correctness of student response. If student’s answer is correct, then this evaluation can affirm, reinforce and move on the instruction. To accept teachers can ask related questions to student to prompt. If student’s answer is incorrect, the teacher then can provide explicit correction by giving ‘normative response’. Evaluation or neutral comment can be done by reformulating questions and challenging students with new questions.

c) Teacher’s feedback might lead to cognitive process for students, some key words that might help: predict, compare, explain, evaluate, observe, recall, hypothesize/recall, deduce, theorize, generate inferences and conclude.

How to relate to future research of my own:

1. Think about teacher talk in different subject-based classrooms. Will teacher’s use of question type and the distribution of different question type changes in different subjects? Will it be different at different educational levels? Will teacher’s question change in boys and girls (gender difference)?

2. How to design a small corpus to help analyze the linguistic features?