Ethnography and classroom discourse

Authored by: Amy B. M. Tsui

The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415551076
eBook ISBN: 9780203809068
Adobe ISBN: 9781136672927


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Classroom discourse research has always been central to educational research. As Cazden (2001) pointed out, the basic purpose of schools is achieved through communication. By studying discursive activities in the classroom, researchers gain insights into the complex and dynamic relationships between discourse, social practices, and learning. An ethnographic approach to L1 (first language) classroom discourse studies was first adopted in the 1960s. However, the use of this approach in L2 (second language) classroom discourse studies is a relatively recent development. This chapter provides a brief account of the nature of ethnography and of the characteristics of ethnographic approaches to classroom discourse, along with a discussion of the major themes that have emerged in the studies so far and some of the issues that the field needs to address.

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