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EL DISCURSO ORAL Y ESCRITO DEL INGLS COMO LENGUA EXTRANJERA DENTRO DEL SISTEMA EDUCATIVO BOLIVARIANO (ORAL AND

WRITTEN DISCOURSE OF ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE


IN THE BOLIVARIAN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM)

The two main channels for language interaction are speech and writing. Speech is a natural faculty of normal human beings while writing is a human invention that appeared later in time. That is why if there is any abnormal condition that impedes so, oral language is acquired first and unconsciously by most human beings (Krashen, 1992), while written language must be learned formally. The processes of construing and processing speech and writing also vary in different ways and using any of them instead of the other brings different consequences in how our speech acts are organized, produced and understood. It is important to keep in mind that nowadays speech and writing should not be seen as two completely different and opposing channels of communication but rather as two ends of a continuum. That is so because nowadays we frequently find language samples that can hardly be classified as either oral or written. As an example of this fact consider an informal note or an e-mail where what we find is a kind of speech written down; or a scientific lecture where the lecturers usually write down everything that will be said and then presents it orally. English teachers should be aware of the differences that exist between speech and writing if they are to help their students to communicate properly through both channels, to understand their different characteristics, the contexts in which each is used and the consequences that different contextual features might have on them. The following are some of the most determinant differences between them. From the point of view of production, it is clear that spoken and written language make somewhat different demands on language-producers. The speaker has available to him the full range of 'voice quality' effects (as well as facial expression, postural and gestural systems). Armed with these he can always override the effect of the words he speaks. Thus the speaker who says 'I'd really like to', leaning forward, smiling, with a 'warm, breathy' voice quality, is much more likely to be interpreted as meaning what he says, than another speaker uttering the same words, leaning away, brow puckered, with a 'sneering, nasal' voice quality. These paralinguistic cues are denied to the writer. We will generally ignore paralinguistic features in spoken language in this book since the data we shall quote from is spoken by co-operative adults who are not exploiting paralinguistic resources against the verbal meanings of their utterances but are, rather, using them to reinforce the meaning. Not only is the speaker controlling the production of communicative systems which are different from those controlled by the writer, he is also processing that production under circumstances which are considerably more demanding. The speaker must monitor what it is that he has just said, and determine whether it matches his intentions, while he is uttering his current phrase and monitoring that, and simultaneously planning his next utterance and fitting that into the overall pattern of what he wants to say and monitoring, moreover, not only his own performance but its reception by his hearer. He has no permanent record of what he has said earlier, and only under unusual circumstances does he have notes which remind him what he wants to say next.

The writer, on the contrary, may look over what he has already written, pause between each word with no fear of his interlocutor interrupting him, take his time in choosing a particular word, even looking it up in the dictionary if necessary, check his progress with his notes, reorder what he has written, and even change his mind about what he wants to say. Whereas the speaker is under considerable pressure to keep on talking during the period allotted to him the writer is characteristically under no such pressure. Whereas the speaker knows that any words which pass his lips will be heard by his interlocutor and, if they are not what he intends, he will have to undertake active, public 'repair', the writer can cross out and rewrite in the privacy of his study (Brown and Yule, 1983). There are, of course, advantages for the speaker. He can observe his interlocutor and, if he wishes to, modify what he is saying to make it more accessible or acceptable to his hearer. The writer has no access to immediate feedback and simply has to imagine the reader's reaction. It is interesting to observe the behavior of individuals when given a choice of conducting a piece of business in person or in writing. Under some circumstances a face-to-face interaction is preferred but, in others, for a variety of different reasons, the individual may prefer to conduct his transaction in writing. Whereas in a spoken interaction the speaker has the advantage of being able to monitor his listener's minute-by-minute reaction to what he says, he also suffers from the disadvantage of exposing his own feelings (Hatch, 1992) and of having to speak clearly and concisely and make immediate response to whichever way his interlocutor reacts. Goody (1977) suggests that written language has two main functions: the first is the storage function which permits communication over time and space, and the second is that which 'shifts language from the oral to the visual domain' and permits words and sentences to be examined out of their original contexts, 'where they appear in a very different and highly "abstract" context. Also, the major differences between speech and writing derive from the fact that one is essentially transitory and the other is designed to be permanent. In the context of teaching English as a foreign language, Garcia (2005) has named the following features to establish some particular differences between speech and writing Speech: 1. It is transient. 2. Speakers are bound to take turns to speak. Otherwise, because of physical constraints they could not hear each other. 3. It is usually improvised so it frequently contains false starts, hesitations or mistakes which can be corrected immediately. 4. As the listener is present it is easier to have direct information of his understanding of the message and take the necessary steps in accordance. 5. Immediate context and paralinguistic features help the speaker to express the message without much cohesion. 6. Speech tends to be redundant. Because speakers are never quite sure whether their listeners are paying attention, understanding or remembering what they are saying or not, they tend to make frequent use of repetitions, paraphrases and restatements. 7. It is usually linguistically informal and less organized which is mainly due to its improvisation, its transience and to the interlocutor presence.

Writing: 1. It is permanent so it can be stored and carries more prestige. 2. It is planned and can be analyzed and corrected after its production. 3. As the readers are absent and usually unknown it is difficult for the writer to predict and take the necessary steps to guide their understanding. 4. The absence of paralinguistic features is somehow supplied by drawings, graphics, letter type, titles. Subtitles, punctuation marks, connectives and cohesive devises. 5. It tends to avoid redundancy so it becomes more grammatically structured and lexically dense. 6. It has to be more formal from the linguistic point of view because of its permanence, of the possibility to plan it ant of the absence of the interlocutor. Nowadays it is understood that discourse in any channel is a social phenomena rather than a linguistic one and that communicative behavior is constructed, acquired and learnt in social interactions. So, it is widely accepted that it is only by analyzing language use in natural contexts that we can draw reliable conclusions about what is grammatically possible, feasible, appropriate and really used in a language. As teachers of language, we have tried to understand how speakers might be able to produce an infinitive number of sentences given a very finite set of rules for sentences. In this sense, the number of things we do with words is limited, we ought to be able to assign several functions to utterances, but the problem with assigning function to sentences is that speaker intention and sentence meaning are not always the same. Speaker intent may be more or less, or actually the opposite, of sentence meaning. Thus, no utterance is completely context free in terms of meaning or function. Aware of this situation, the Theory of Speech Acts (Austin, 1962 and Searle, 1969) explains how communication functions in social interactions, how is it that we come to understand what people mean when they say something. This theory states that anything that we say or write constitutes an speech act and that in every speech act we utter, three different acts are simultaneously performed: a locutionary, an illocutionary and a perlocutionary act. The locutionary act is the act of saying or writing something in a language. That llocutionary act should be constructed in conformity to the rules of the language that we are speaking if we want to be understood; otherwise, the act would not be a real locutionary act but just a noise without any meaning. That act has a signification or a literal meaning which is conveyed by its particular syntactic structure and wording; it can be analyzed syntactically, morphologically, phonetically, etc. For example a locution such as I dont have any money can be understood as someone giving information about his/her financial actual condition, it can be classified as an active and simple negative sentence conjugated in the present tense. But if communication is to be successful we need to know more than that; we need to go beyond its signification; we need to know the contextual illocutionary value of that illocution. The Illocutionary Act is the intention that we have when we utter something, the real value that it takes because of the context where it is uttered. The locutionary act I dont have any money can be understood in different ways depending on the context where it was produced. For example, it could be taken 1) as a fathers negative answer to his sons request for money, 2) as a boyfriends excuse to his girlfriends invitation to

the movie or, 3) as someone asking a classmate to pay her breakfast at the school cafeteria. This illustrates how the same language form can acquire different interpretations and how context makes this possible and helps to disambiguate the value of the speakers illocution or intention. The Perlocutionary Act is the effect produced in the listener or reader when they listen or read a locutionary act. The three possible illocutionary forces given to the locution I dont have any money in our example could produce different effects in the listener. In case 1, the son could get angry with his father, could try to get the money he needs from his mother or could just decide not to do what he had planned with the money he was asking for. In case 2, the girl could forget about going to the movie, decide going for a walk instead or offer his boyfriend to pay the ticket for him. Similarly, the third case could give rise to different possibilities. It is very important to understand that what this theory proposes is the existence of three separate acts existing simultaneously in every piece of language that we produce no matter what its extension, form or topic are. Every act of language is then a speech act involving three different acts and, as such, every act of language can be analyzed from those three different perspectives. This theory is then much more realistic than the traditional linear model of communication since it permits us to explain more acceptably the difficulties that typically occur in natural communication at different levels: at the locutionary level which is the message level, at the illocutionary level which is the speakers level and at the perlocutionary level, which is the listeners level, or at a combination of some or all of them. For the understanding and production of coherent discourse it is necessary to infer the function of what is said. This is done by considering the form of what has been said or written and the contextual information relevant for its understanding. In speech act theory it is supposed that when we speak or write we do things with words (we suggest, describe, define, apologize, etc.). This is obvious in some ritualized expressions where saying is equivalent to doing. The use of such ritualistic utterances operates properly only in situations were certain conditions are given and when the one who speaks is socially or academically invested with the authority necessary for saying them, like is the case of a judge, a priest or a lawyer. But in ordinary life situations they are never or seldom used. In colloquial language use what is more common to use instead are utterances that express indirectly what we mean. In these cases our listeners or readers have to infer our illocutionary acts taking into account the morphosyntactic characteristics of the message and the context where it is produced, since the meaning is not directly expressed in our utterances. The philosopher Searle (1965) established a classification which is useful for inferring the possible illocutionary force or value of an utterance in a given discourse. He classified them into commisive, declarative, expressive and representative acts. Commisive Illocutionary Acts: They are utterances in which the speaker commits himself to do something in the future, for example a promise or a thread:

If you dont pay the bill well call the police Ill bring you a bunch of flowers on your birthday Declarative: They are utterances whose function is to get the listener to do something. Examples of declarative acts are suggestions, requests or a commands: Please come in Would you please close the window? Why dont you read the text throughout before discussing it? Expressive: An expressive speech act is one in which the speaker expresses feelings and attitudes about something; for example an apology, a complaint, when we thank or congratulate someone: The letter was so beautiful Im sorry for being late I hate fish Representative: A representative speech act is on in which the speaker or writer describes states or events from the real world; for example a claim, a report: This is a German car, The rain destroyed the crops In addition, any speech act can be direct or indirect. It is the speaker or the writer the one who decides to between on for or the other. Direct speech acts are those where the locutionary act and the illocutionary act coincide, such as in: A. Alice, come here and sit down in front of me B. I feel very upset because of his reaction C. I shall phone you tomorrow at ten In all this examples the structure used expresses almost literally the illocutionary intention of the speaker: in A a declarative illocutionary act has been expressed by means of an imperative sentence; in B and C declarative sentences has been chosen to express an expressive and a commisive speech acts respectively. With extraordinary frequency, however, speakers and writers chose not to code their messages directly but indirectly. An indirect speech act is one where there is no coincidence between the type of illocutionary act and the syntactic structure of the message. The following examples illustrate this point: A. Could you open the window? Please B. Dont you see I love you? C. Its too late for watching TV In these examples different types of illocutionary acts have been expressed indirectly: in A a declarative speech act has been coded as a question, while in B and C two expressive illocutionary acts have been coded indirectly using a question and a declarative sentence respectively.

It is very important for English teachers to keep in mind that most of our illocutionary acts in normal communication are indirect. This is why it is not enough to teach our students grammar; it is our obligation to teach them the multiple and surprising ways in which the grammatical structures that they study in class are used in real life communication. In addition to what it was said before, rhetorical genre analysis in English teaching reveals templates or scripts in the organization of discourse that is primarily monologic. Due to this, rhetoric deals with the study of how different pieces of discourse are organized according to their communicative function. It tells us how narration, descriptions, conversations and other communicative functions are typically initiated, continued and ended. This information is important in communicative language learning and teaching because communication is an interactive process where speakers or writers have to make decisions that consist in choosing and organizing information with a specific communicative purpose and a specific audience in mind, so that the resulting discourse is cohesive and coherent, so rhetorical information helps the students to perceive the communicative usefulness of the language structures they have already studied, practiced and used. When we listen to or read a piece of discourse in our native language, it is regularly easy for us to identify it as a narration, a description or a dialogue. We can even predict its type after listening or reading its first or second sentences. This means that we know, at least unconsciously, how discourse is organized in L1. Since this information helps us to produce and understand discourse, it is necessary that teachers: a) make foreign language students conscious of how discourse is organized in the language they are learning; b)make foreign language students conscious of the fact that discourse organization is similar among languages and c) help their students to take advantage of the knowledge they already have about how discourse is organized in their native language to improve their production and understanding of discourse in the language they are learning. It has been said that discourse involves the study of language use in communication and that its units of analysis are usually units larger than the sentence, but this does not mean that discourse units dont have a regular and predictable structure. What it means is that their structures are different. The main differences between discourse and sentence structures are: discourse has rhetorical structure while sentences have grammatical (syntactic or semantic) structure; the rhetoric structures of discourse are determined by the communicative needs of those who interact through language while sentence structure is governed by grammatical rules; discourse structure is flexible because it depends on the communicative needs of the speakers which vary according to the contextual situation. On the contrary, sentence structure is rigid because it depends on rules which were established before the communicative interaction. Since the human systems for information processing (ears, eyes, and brain) have certain limitations, normal communication proceeds in a way conventionally organized to avoid overlapping and misunderstanding. That is why writers and speakers organize their discourse into units larger than the sentence which differ in writing and speaking. Such units become patterns followed as routines for sequencing the information according to communicative conventions. The identification of those patterns and those

conventions helps us to understand the relation that connects a group of sentences in a given piece of discourse. The rhetorical structure of discourse is given by the way in which its constituent parts are organized and sequenced. These constituent units of information can be paragraphs, sections or chapters (in writing) or turns (in speech) which have an identifiable communicative function. The most common communicative functions are conversation, description, definition, classification, instructions, narration and argumentation. Within each type, there can be many different subtypes. For example, there are many different types of conversation: dialogues, interviews, phone calls or doctor-patient conversations; many different types of narrative texts: sport news, novels, short stories or biographies; many varieties of instructions: cooking recipes, manual or a doctors prescription. Each of these subtypes has specific social functions which influence their grammatical and lexical characteristics and the kind and amount of information each contains. Narration is thought to be the most universal genre, because all cultures have story telling traditions. Story telling episodes have been collected in many languages, and based on such data; researchers claim that there is some basic universal template for the narrative (Hatch, 1992). Narratives usually begin with an orientation in order to inform listeners or readers about the world of the story. This includes the time of the story and its spatial setting, as well as the introduction of characters and the roles they play. Such openings or orientations reveal how syntax can be establish the story world. In English narratives, copula sentences (use of be), presentatives (there is/there are sentences), and identifying or descriptive relative clauses are often to establish characters within the setting. Once the story world setting is complete, the storyteller can begin to set up the story line. Most stories involve a hero who has a goal. There is usually some problem that prevents an easy attainment of the goal, so the hero develops a plan for solving the problem and achieving the goal, a part called the resolution or climax. Narratives also need a concluding part which is called the coda. The coda may also contain a moral that summarizes or evaluates the storys relevance. Finally, narratives may include an abstract, assort of title of the story told. Description is considered by linguist, a very hard genre to set a definite template. Anyways, we can subcategorize it into types: physical descriptions function or process descriptions and emotional descriptions (Hatch, 1992). Physical descriptions have to do with the physical description of an object, a person, a place, an animal, etc. The thing being described can be real or unreal (fictional). The physical characteristics most frequently described are dimension, shape, weight, material, volume, color, and texture. Commonly the information they include follows a natural spatial order since they are clearly tied together: when the main communicative function of a paragraph is to describe the physical properties of something, the writer needs to refer to spatial relations. In this kind of description we find many prepositional phrases, adverbs of place, nouns and adjectives. Function or process description is concerned with the use or purpose of some device and how its parts function separately and as a whole. This type of description usually contains causality and result orders, time orders, imperatives and modals.

Emotional descriptions include the characteristic of ones personality: feelings, attitudes, preferences, reactions, etc. They usually contain abstract nouns and adjectives, as well as sense verbs (feel, see, perceive, consider, etc.) and causality and result order. A third genre is that of how to discourse. Instruction is the kind of communicative function that tells someone to do or not to do something. Instructions can be of two types: direct or indirect. Direct instructions are characterized by the use of the imperative form of the verb (switch it on). In this type each instruction is presented separately in a sentence. Indirect instructions are characterized by the use of modal verbs (first, you must switch it on), the passive voice (first, it is switched on) or a combination or both: the passive modals (first, it must be switched on). In this type the instructions are connected in a paragraph that usually follows a natural time order combined with a causality and result order (Garcia, 2005). Finally, argumentation, which has often been defined as the process of supporting or weakening another statement whose validity is questionable or contentious, is even more flexible than the rhetorical modes presented thus far. However, there is a classical template of this genre that includes introduction, explanation, of the case under consideration, outline of the argument, proof, refutation, and conclusion (Maccoun, 1983). Garcia (2005) has suggested that when we argue we state our ideas and opinions directly or indirectly supporting them with our reasons. The aim of the argumentation can be to convince the reader or listener to agree with us (as in political argumentation) or to just present our viewpoints for or against something without necessarily attempting to persuade them. When we argue we explain the relations that we perceive among the concepts, ideas or facts qualifying them positively or negatively. For doing so we need to use logical connectives. This is why the information presented usually follows a logical order, though other natural orders are also found since writers can decide to present a description or a narrative as a justification for their opinions. The prototypical rhetorical structure of an argumentative piece of discourse is: introduction, development and conclusion. In the introduction, a case, idea, statement or problem is presented identified (defined, described). The way in which the central topic is going to be developed should be stated as clearly as possible as well as the authors attitude (for, against or neutral). The introduction is very important because the whole argument that is to follow will be built on the topic that is being introduced. In the development, the arguments to support the topic or ideas stated in the introduction are provided. Such arguments can be examples, anecdotes, statistical data or reasons depending on the nature of the topic. The number of paragraphs devoted to this part depends, again, on the nature of the topic but it is important to have in mind that each paragraph must add something new and important to the argument. In the conclusion we must go back to the topic stated in the introduction and summarize the consequence that derives directly from the arguments analyzed. Some activities can be put into practice to challenge pupils to engage with texts, like in the case of DARTs (Direct Activities Related to Texts). They ask them to read closely and to interpret the information carefully. They can often go beyond the comprehension question, which can sometimes only ask pupils to move information, rather than to understand it. These activities have evolved to use reading as a way of learning a subject. Its aim is to foster independent reading and actively engage the learner with text. One of its principles is that reading is no longer seen as a solitary

activity, but can involve a small group or pair of learners. The technique can be used at any level and with any kind of text. The types of activities a teacher can use are those on: Text completion (Fill in missing words, phrases or sentences), Sequencing (Arrange jumbled segments of text in a logical or time sequence), Grouping (Group segments of text according to categories), Table completion (Fill in the cells of a table that has row and column headings, or provide row and column headings where cells have already been filled in), Diagram completion (Complete an unfinished diagram or label a finished diagram) as well as Prediction activities (Write the next step or stage of a text, or end the text). No doubt about it, the new era assigns new challenges and duties on the modern English teacher who wants to promote their students communicative competence through rhetoric. The tradition of English teaching has been drastically changed with the remarkable entry of technology. Technology provides so many options as making teaching interesting and also making teaching more productive in terms of improvements. Technology is one of the most significant drivers of both social and linguistic change, as the number of English learners is increasing different teaching methods have been implemented to test the effectiveness of the teaching process. Use of authentic materials in the form of films, radio, TV has been there for a long time. It is true that these technologies have proved successful in replacing the traditional teaching. Graddol (1997) states that technology lays at the heart of the globalization process affecting education work and culture. At present, the role and status of English is that it is the language of social context, political, sociocultural, business, education, industries, media, library, communication across borders, and key subject in curriculum and language of imparting education. It is also a crucial determinant for university entrance and processing well paid jobs in the commercial sector. Since there are more and more English learners in our country, different teaching methods have been implemented to test the effectiveness of the teaching process. One method involves multimedia in English Language Teaching (ELT) in order to create English contexts. This helps students to get involved and learn according to their interests. It has been tested effectively and is widely accepted for teaching English in modern world. Technology is utilized for the upliftment of modern styles; it satisfies both visual and auditory senses of the students. With the rapid development of science and technology in our Bolivarian Higher Education System, the emerging and developing of multimedia technology and its application to teaching, featuring audio, visual, animation effects comes into full play in English class teaching and sets a favorable platform for reform and exploration on English teaching model in the new era. Its proved that multimedia technology plays a positive role in promoting activities and initiatives of student and teaching effect in English class. Technological innovations have gone hand in hand with the growth of English and are changing the way in which we communicate. It is fair to assert that the growth of the internet at the university (as in the case of our Interactive Dialogical Learning students- ADI in Spanish) has facilitated the growth of the English language and that this has occurred at a time when computers are no longer the exclusive domains of the dedicated few, but rather available to many. There are many techniques applicable in various degrees to language learning situation. Some are useful for testing and distance education, and some for teaching business English, spoken English, reading, listening or interpreting. The teaching

principle should be to appreciate new technologies in the areas and functions where they provide something decisively new useful and never let machines takeover the role of the teacher or limit functions where more traditional ways are superior. There are various reasons why all language learners and teachers must know how to make use of the new technology. Here we also need to emphasize that the new technologies develop and disseminate so quickly that we cannot avoid their attraction and influence in any form. It is true that one of the ultimate goals of multimedia language teaching is to promote students motivation and learning interest, which can be a practical way to get them involved in the language learning. Context creation of ELT should be based on the openness and accessibility of the teaching materials and information. During the process of optimizing the multimedia English teaching, students are not too dependent on their mother tongue, but will be motivated and guided to communicate with each other. Concerning the development of technology, we believe that in future, the use of multimedia English teaching will be further developed. The process of English learning will be more students centered but less time consuming. Therefore, it promises that the teaching quality will be improved and students applied English skill scan is effectively cultivated, meaning that students communicative competence will be further developed. In conclusion, I believe that this process can fully improve students ideation and practical language skills, which is helpful and useful to ensure and fulfill an effective result of teaching and learning. Barring a few problem areas multimedia technology can be used effectively in classrooms of ELT with proper computer knowledge on the part of teachers, overcoming the finance problems in setting up the infrastructure and not allowing the teachers to become technophobes.