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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Form-function relations in student discourse contextualized by classroom language activities : a case study of an elementary Chinese as a foreign language program Huang, Jingzi


Recent studies in language education have advocated the integration of language and content learning, assuming that classroom discourse will display appropriate formfunction relations. But Swain (1988) reveals that even good content teaching may result in classroom discourse where form-function relations are neither appropriate nor transparent, and calls for intentional teacher planning of classroom activities. Thus major areas for research are intentional planning for integration and functional discourse analysis. Approaches to the form-function analysis of discourse include register (Halliday 1985), genre (Martin 1992) and knowledge structures (Mohan 1990). All three provide a theoretical basis for functional discourse analysis and intentional planning. In this qualitative, eight-month study of Chinese as a foreign language and culture class for beginning elementary anglophone students, the teachers designed student tasks around knowledge structures, using graphic representations to mediate between language and content. Data included lesson plans, informal interviews, field notes, and discourse data from student interactions and written work. The discourse was analyzed lexicogrammatically with a view to form-function relations, particularly the formal realizations of knowledge structures. Major questions were: how were foreign language teaching and cultural learning intentionally organized around knowledge structures at the level of both curriculum design and classroom implementation? What systematic formfunction relations appeared in the discourse data. How are knowledge structures formally realized in the interactions and written work of young foreign language learners? The results throw light on the possibilities of systematic form-function relations in the classroom, the integration of language and content learning, and on further directions for intentional planning.

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