Analysis of Spoken and Written Discourse



Course Title: Analysis of Spoken and Written Discourse




This course offers students an opportunity to gain familiarity with discourse analytic approaches to analysing language for teaching purposes. It offers both a theoretical and practical understanding of the key concepts associated with discourse analysis, focusing on both spoken and written discourse. The course explains how discourse analysis is essential for effective language teaching and learning and gets learners to think beyond the level of sentence. In addition, students will learn how to make use of spoken and written texts in their teaching and how to analyse their own language and interaction in the context of classroom discourse.


  • To provide participants with an overview of the main elements of discourse.
  • To consider alternative approaches to analysing written and spoken texts.
  • To engage with current debates and dichotomies in the field of discourse analysis.
  • To examine means of integrating discourse analytic approaches as part of a language teaching repertoire.
  • To consider how an understanding of classroom discourse can enhance teaching and learning opportunity.


Intended knowledge outcomes

By the end of this module, participants should:

  • Understand how discourse is different from other core aspects of language.
  • Recognise how an understanding of discourse changes the way we think about language learning.
  • Understand how the ways in which teachers communicate with learners can affect learning.
  • Know how to design and edit language teaching dialogues and other spoken materials so that they focus more on discourse and are more natural and realistic.


Intended skills outcomes

By the end of this module, participants should be able to:

  • Analyse language using spoken and written texts
  • Teach and support learning through discourse analytic approaches to language
  • Adapt both spoken and written texts for teaching purposes
  • Make use of a range of text types in their teaching





Assessment: 100% coursework.



Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)




CLO Statement

Upon successful completion of this Course, students should


Programme Learning


Assessment Task(s) No.

1 dbem abolnse trateo:  an understanding of the lexico-grammatical and Outc1o mes 1, 2
2 deismcoounsrstrate e resaon urucneds eermstapnlodyiedng toof  cdrieffaetere a nt aexpprot in tahceh es to the 1, 4 1, 2
3 dappescly ripthtieo nk naonwd leandagle ysgainedis of sp ion akenna land written ysing differdeinsct otyuprsees

of naturally occurring English spoken and written texts

1,4 1, 2
4 explicitly link insights developed from the analysis of those texts to 3,4 1, 2
5 collaborate with classmates through group work, discussion of readings and peer feedback to facilitate 1,3,4 1, 2
6 clearningritically  reflect upon pedagogical practices and devise strategies 2,3,5 1, 2


1 Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs) of MA(TESOL)

PLO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key concepts, theories and research in English language education;

PLO2: Show a critical awareness and understanding of pedagogical approaches and curriculum developments in English language teaching and learning, applying this understanding to formulate pedagogical strategies for the teaching of English;

PLO3: Critically reflect on their own language learning and teaching experiences in light of key theories and concepts in the field and in the context of their own development as an ethical teaching professional;

PLO4: Demonstrate research and academic literacy in communicating with academic researchers and teaching professionals, as well as through sustained collaborative work;

PLO5: Critically review and formulate research strategies to respond to methodological issues related to teaching and learning English as a second language, exploring and reflecting upon one’s own developing identity as an ethical education researcher.




The course is based on 10 sessions of 2 hours duration each. All sessions will consist of mini-lectures on approaches to spoken/written discourse analysis, followed by workshop-based tasks in which participants will apply those approaches in understanding naturally occurring spoken/written English texts. Readings on the theoretical notions will be recommended and participants are expected to do the reading between the sessions.



Expected hours of study


Course teaching and learning activities (TLAs) Teacher-Student Face-to

Face Contact (CT) hours (including sessions on Zoom, if necessary)

Study Load (SL) hours (estimates) 2 Alignment with CLOs
Interactive Lecture 20 20 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Preparation for group presentation 0.5 2 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Moodle forum discussion 5 10 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Self-study: e.g., reading, library research for course assigned tasks 0 30 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Total 25.5 62  



Session Session Topic and Description Related CLOs



Spoken and written texts


This introductory session will consider the main issues involved in the teaching and learning of spoken and written texts from both teacher and learner perspectives. The aim is to consider what the main features of spoken and written texts are and to define discourse and discourse analysis. In addition, this session will provide an overview of the speech act theory as a systematic way to analyse and understand spoken discourse.




McCarthy, Chapter 1. Cook, Chapter 1. Widdowson, Chapter 1.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5,









Language functions 

What do we actually ‘do’ with language? In this session, language continues to be analysed using a systemic-functional approach based on speech act theory. Instead of looking at the words themselves, attention is given to the intended meaning behind them (illocutionary force). Students will have an opportunity to evaluate language functions in naturally occurring spoken discourses (including but not limited to classroom discourses) and therefore draw pedagogic implications.



Cook, Chapter 3.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5,






An introduction to pragmatics

The focus in this session is pragmatics; students are given an opportunity to evaluate the concept of information structure in spoken discourse: what assumptions do speakers make about their audience? How does ‘new’ information become ‘given’ and how does this impact on communication? In addition, this session looks at the theories which underpin an understanding of how we communicate through spoken discourse.


Cook, Chapter 6. McCarthy, Chapter 5.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5,








Conversation analysis (CA) 


Conversation analysis rests on the early work of the ethnomethodologists and considers how turn-taking and topic-management systems inform the oral communication process. In this session, we look at the principal features of spoken interaction which are of interest to analysts: adjacency pairs, turn-taking, sequential organisation, topic management, openings and closings.


In addition, we’ll be considering some of the more practical issues related to transcribing spoken data. How can we represent spoken interaction in writing? What conventions should be used and in what ways do we need to exercise caution? How do we account for things like pauses, overlaps, laughter, etc in our transcripts? More importantly, what are the challenges we face when we come to analyse transcripts of spoken interaction?



Heller (2001) in Schiffrin et al, Chapter 13. Paul ten Have, Chapters 1-3. Thornbury, Unit 28.


Schegloff (2007), Chapters 1 and 2. Ten Have (2007), Chapters 4-5. Cook,

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


Chapter 4.

Session 6


Introduction: an “eclectic” approach, analytic frameworks and corpus building


In this session we will begin with an overview of an “eclectic” approach adopted in this part of the course for written discourse analysis. We will then practice using several analytical frameworks to analyse written texts. Corpus building will be introduced; students will be encouraged to build a minicorpus in the coming weeks for pedagogical purposes.


Recommended readings: Cornbleet & Carter (2001) Unit 3; Nunan (2008); O’Keeffe et al. (2007) Ch1

1, 2, 3, 4,

5, 6

Session 7



Understanding cohesion (2)


In this session we will examine grammatical cohesion and lexical cohesion. Understanding of relevant concepts will be enhanced by analysing samples of texts from school textbooks and the media. Pedagogical implications will be considered.


Recommended readings: McCarthy (1991) Ch2&3; Thornbury (2005) Ch2; Liu (2000)

1, 2, 3, 4,

5, 6

Session 8



Genre analysis and genre pedagogy


Genre analysis and genre pedagogy in the Australian tradition will be introduced. The focus will be on hands-on analysis of different genres and understanding some key principles in genre pedagogy in school contexts. Some basic functions of AntConc will be introduced for analysing a corpus of texts.  


Recommended readings: Hyland (2004) Ch2; Maxwell-Reid (2014); Paltridge (2006) Ch4

1, 2, 3, 4,

5, 6

Session 9



 Critical reading and corpus methods  

In this session we will begin with the kinds of questions we can ask as a starting point for a critical reading of texts in classrooms. We will then discuss how the use of corpus methods can facilitate critical analysis. Students are expected to have started to work on an assignment plan.

Recommended readings: Sealey & Thompson (2004); Tsui (2004); Paltridge (2006) Ch7

1, 2, 3, 4,

5, 6





Essay B preparation 


In this session we will focus on Essay B preparation by sharing and presenting our assignment plans and giving and receiving feedback.

1, 2, 3, 4,

5, 6


Assessment Tasks2


Task No. Type of Assessment Task/Activities Mode of Assessment Weighting


Due date Related CLO(s)
1 Short Essay A Individual 50%   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
2 Short Essay B Individual 50%   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


The assignment comprises two short essays:


Essay A will focus on analysing a stretch of naturally occurring spoken discourse data and discussion of pedagogic implications that can be drawn from such analysis Content of the Assignment:

Your assignment should be organised in the following order:

  1. The Cover sheet, which includes your name, student number, course, tutor’s name, date, assignment title, email address or mobile number;
  2. Introduction, restricted to stating the objectives and the methodology of the analysis (hypothesis can also be included if necessary), with brief contextualisation of the data (where and how they were collected)
  3. Analysis of the spoken data; 4. Pedagogic implications ;
  4. Appendix(es), which include(s) transcription(s) of all the analysed spoken discourse data and other relevant materials.


Recommended Procedures:

  1. Collect a piece of naturally occurring (i.e. involving authentic rather than contrived communication) spoken discourse data for analysis. You may choose to use classroom interaction data or those occurring in non-classroom-based contexts, such as radio/TV interviews, film excerpts, etc.
  2. Fully transcribe your data and include all the linguistic (e.g. the use of such time fillers as ‘well’, ‘hmm’) and paralinguistic features (e.g. facial expressions and body gestures) that would be important in interpreting them. For a user-friendly framework of such transcription notations, please consult Tsui (1994: xvii-xviii).
  3. Analyse the transcriptions according to some of the discourse models introduced in the course.

Identify key features of the spoken discourse sample(s) and the discourse analytical model(s) that seem most appropriate for analysis and discussion. Do refer to relevant literature where appropriate.

  1. Draw some pedagogic implications from the analysis regarding the teaching of speaking, listening, etc. and the use of classroom language to classroom learners. To illustrate your teaching ideas more concretely, you may want to include (samples of) the corresponding teaching materials in the appendix section.
  2. Write up the report, and arrange the inclusion of the transcriptions and all other relevant materials in the appendix section.
  3. Proof-read your work, including the conventions of making academic citations.


Content of the Report:

  1. Introduction (100-200 words)
  • Objectives and methodological approaches to the analysis
  • Source of the data
  • Situational Context, e.g. where, when, for what communicative purposes
  • Whether the data are extracted from more extended pieces of communication (and the stage at which they are extracted) or they form a complete piece of communication on their own
  1. Analysis of the spoken data (1000-1200 words)
  • Description of the analytical models that are adopted in analysing the spoken data, including any classification systems where appropriate, as well as the limitations in such analysis. Do refer to the relevant literature while doing your descriptions and justifications.
  • Findings from the analysis according to the various analytical models adopted (you may want to present such findings, or part of them in table form)
  • Insights about how effective communication is achieved through the co-construction of the piece of spoken discourse analysed (at both the levels of linguistic and paralinguistic features) on part of the interlocutors involved, and possible reasons of any communication breakdowns (e.g. misunderstanding) if they exist in the data
  • Influences of the roles of and the relationship between the interlocutors (e.g. between a superior and an inferior or between equals, between close friends or between strangers) and such other contextual factors as the mode of communication (e.g. a face-to-face chat or a phone call) on the actual utterances spoken within the analysed piece(s) of discourse
  1. Pedagogic Implications (200- 300 words)
  • Ideas on the teaching of language items and/or skills (particularly those involving spoken language use) to classroom learners of English that can be informed by the analysis of the chosen spoken discourse data
  • Insights regarding the use of classroom language to facilitate the teacher’s interactions with the learners, i.e. language used in delivering e.g. instructions (for lesson activities), explanations, elicitations, feedback, etc.
  1. Reference List

–    A full reference list of the articles, books or other sources you have mentioned in your report.

Submission deadline: 14/11/2020


2 The assessment load for a taught MA(TESOL) course should be about 3,000 words for essay or equivalent for other forms of assessment.














Essay B:


Choose a written text suitable for your target students and analyse the text by using a selection of methods introduced in the course. Based on the analysis, demonstrate how the text can be taught effectively to a group of target students by giving pedagogical suggestions, which should include the design of one activity that includes three tasks, with at least one worksheet prepared. Put the chosen text and the worksheet(s) in the appendices.

Introduction                                      – around 100 words

Teaching context and text selection – around 150 words

Text analysis                                    – around 1200 words

Pedagogical suggestions with a teaching activity   – around 300 words


A recommended structure for Essay B

A concise title for the assignment paper

  1. Introduction: In one short paragraph give a preview of the paper, in terms of its purpose, the target students addressed, the text analysed, the analytical tools used, and the pedagogical goals to achieve.
  2. Teaching context and text selection: 1) Describe briefly the specific educational context and the target students’ learning issues that need to be addressed. 2) Describe and cite (in the APA style) the source of the text selected for analysis in the paper, an explain why this selection is made. Refer the reader to Appendix 1 for the text. One paragraph.
  3. Text analysis: This should include several subsections, each with a numbered concise sub-heading (3.1…, 3.2…, etc.). Use a selection of concepts and analytic methods discussed in the course to analyse the text. Please avoid using concepts and methods not covered in this course. Include the Tables and

Figures that lay out your analysis within the main text for the reader’s easy reference. Number the Tables (Table 1, Table 2…) and Figures (Figure 1, Figure 2…).

  1. Pedagogical suggestions with a teaching activity: Based on the analyses in the foregoing section, make some pedagogical suggestions to address potential gaps in the current teaching materials or pedagogical methods for the target students. These pedagogical suggestions should provide a rationale for the teaching activity to be presented next. Then describe a teaching activity to be used with your target students. Give the activity a name. The activity should include 3 tasks. Design at least one worksheet. If a worksheet is based on something adapted from a source (e.g., a textbook), please say so in the text, with the source cited and brief indication of the kind of modification that has been made.


Give a list of the references you have cited in your paper, following the APA style. See for APA guidelines. The APA style should also be used for the in-text citations.

Appendices   The order in which the Appendices are presented should be the same as they are referred to in the paper. The Appendices should be referred to in the text (e.g., “(see Appendix 3)” or “the worksheet for this task can be found in Appendix 3”).

If a separate text (other than the text analysed in Section 3) will be used in the activity, please include the text (with source given too) in a separate Appendix.

Please double-space the main text, use Times New Roman for the font, and use point size 12. Include everything of this assignment in one Word file.   


Submission deadline: 16/12/2020


Key References for Spoken Discourse


Cook, G. (1989). Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This is still one of the best introductions to the field (and written by my MA Tutor!).


Cutting, J. (2008). Pragmatics and discourse: a resource book for students. London: Routledge. Highly accessible and very student-friendly.


McCarthy, M. (1991). Discourse analysis for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

A very comprehensive book which covers all aspects of the field from the perspective of a language teacher.


Walsh, S. (2013). Classroom discourse and teacher development. Edinburgh: EUP.

Looks at the ways in which teachers can improve their practice by focusing on classroom interaction and classroom discourse.


Tsui, A.B.M. (1994). English Conversation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

A very comprehensive book which covers all aspects of spoken discourse and the analysis of it.


Widdowson, H.G. (2007). Discourse analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Additional readings for Spoken Discourse


The following are included as other sources which you made find useful:


Basturkmen, H. (2002). Clause Relations and Macro Patterns: Cohesion, Coherence and the Writing of Advanced ESOL Students. English Teaching Forum Online, 40 (1). Available at:


Benwell, B. and Stokoe, E. (2006) Discourse and identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Celce-Murcia, M. and E. Olshtain. 2000. Discourse and context in language teaching: A guide for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Celce-Murcia, M., & N. Yoshida. (2003). Alternatives to Current Pedagogy for Teaching the Present

Perfect Progressive. English Teaching Forum 41:1. Available online at

Halliday, M.A.K. and R. Hasan. 1976. Cohesion in English. Harlow, Essex: Longman. For reference.

Hoey, M. (2001). Textual interaction: an introduction to written discourse analysis. Routledge. Especially Chapter 7

Martin, J.R. & D. Rose. (2003). Working with Discourse: meaning beyond the clause. London: Continuum.

McCarthy, M. (1991). Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge  University Press. Chapters 5 and 6.


McCarthy, M., & Carter, R. (1994). Language as discourse: Perspectives for language teachers. New 10 York: Longman. Chapter 2 is useful on textual patterns.

McCarthy, M. J. & R. A. Carter (2001). Designing the Discourse Syllabus. Innovation in English Language Teaching. D. Hall and A. Hewings. London: Routledge: 55-63.


Schiffrin, D. Et al (2001) The handbook of discourse analysis. London: Blackwell.


Seedhouse, P. (2004). The interactional architecture of the second language classroom: a conversation analytic approach. London: Blackwell.


Ten Have, P. (2007) Doing conversation analysis. London: Sage.


Thornbury, S. (1997). About Language. Cambridge: Cambridge  University Press. Units 26 and 27.


Walsh, S. (2011) Exploring classroom discourse: language in action. London: Routledge.


Other readings will be referred to as we proceed through the course.


Key References for Written Discourse


(These are the books/articles noted in the ‘Recommended readings’ under Sessions 6-10)


Cornbleet, S., & Carter, R. (2001). The language of speech and writing. Routledge.

Hyland, K. (2004). Genre and second language writing. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.

Liu, D. (2000). Writing cohesion: Using context lexical ties in ESOL. English Teaching Forum, 38(1), 28-33.

Maxwell-Reid, C. (2014). Genre in the teaching of English in Hong Kong. In D. Coniam (Ed.), English Language Education and Assessment: Recent Developments in Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland (pp. 87-102). Springer.

McCarthy, M. (1991). Discourse analysis for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nunan, D. (2008). Exploring genre and register in contemporary English. English Today, 24(2), 56-61.

O’Keeffe, A., McCarthy, M., & Carter, R. (2007). From corpus to classroom: Language use and language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Paltridge, B. (2006). Discourse analysis: An introduction. London & New York: Continuum.

Sealey, A., & Thompson, P. (2004). ‘What do you call the dull words?’ Primary school children using corpus-based approaches to learn about language. English in Education, 38(1), 80-91.

Thornbury, S. (2005). Beyond the sentence: Introducing discourse analysis. Oxford: Macmillan Education.

Tsui, A. B. M. (2004). What teachers have always wanted to know–and how corpora can help. In J. M.

Sinclair (Ed.), How to use corpora in language teaching (pp. 39-61). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.             11



Additional References for Written Discourse


These will be posted on Moodle as a wiki file (constantly updated), in the form of a References list that shows all the literature cited in the PowerPoint slides and handouts for this part of the course.



Academic Conduct


Attendance & Absence

Because assessment for this course is by assignments and participation in class activities, class attendance and punctuality are important requirements for a successful completion of the course. If you must be absent due to

unavoidable circumstances, you should inform the course lecturers in advance. You must also make all necessary arrangements with the course lecturer to complete the course readings and assignments. Failure to observe these requirements may result in a ‘Fail’.


Avoiding plagiarism

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of

the source, the use of another’s idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, report,

project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Find out more about plagiarism and how to avoid committing it at the site


Any student who fails due to plagiarism may be referred to the University Disciplinary Committee. Plagiarism is a serious matter. If you have any doubts about whether or not your use of sources constitutes plagiarism, please ask your teachers or the Subject/Programme Coordinator(s).




MA(TESOL) Assessment Feedback Sheet


Student Name:             


Assignment Title:        



Assessment Feedback: (to be completed by Examiner)

Please refer to MA(TESOL) Student Handbook (Section 9) for information on Assessment Criteria and Grade Descriptors.


Specific Criteria:

Keys:  Excellent (E), Good (G), Satisfactory (S), Marginal (M),

Unsatisfactory (US)

Understanding of the task and key concepts/issues involved          
Depth of analysis and/or critique in response to the task          
Use of appropriate professional and/or research literature to support response          
Structure and organisation of response          
Presentation of response according to appropriate academic and linguistic conventions          
General Comments:          










Examiner: ______________________________________________                                                               Date:




Grade*:_____________________________________________________________________________ ____

(*Remark: The recommended grade is tentative only and subject to moderation process and approval by the MA(TESOL) Board by Examiners.  Final grade would not be released to students before the Board of Examiners’ approval.)


NB:  The comments and/or ticks in the various boxes are designed to provide feedback to students. Criteria are not given equal weight in determining the recommended grade.  Depending on the nature of the assessment task, examiners may also contextualise and/or amend these specific criteria.