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    Programme 2016-2019
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    language in subjects
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    Step 1: Planning
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    Tool 2: How To Identify a Discourse Genre in Different Subjects?

Developing language awareness in subject classes

Tool 1  -  Tool 2  -  Tool 3  -  Tool 4  -  Tool 5

Tool 2: Identify discourse genres in your subject(s)

Describing” does not have the same meaning in history, geography or science: to describe a historical actor or to describe a policy or an event does not require the same cognitive operations, organization of information, or linguistic elements. Moreover, when students produce a text in history class, they must adopt the position of a history student. In a mathematics class, they must write from the point of view of a math student; the characteristics and linguistics elements are not the same as if a student is asked to be, for example, a journalist. 

This tool allows subject teachers to identify the language practices, which are relevant to their specific subject. It is not intended to be distributed to the students. Column 2 (discourse genre) explains how to apply each category.

How to use this tool? 

STEP 1: Choose an oral or written text in the subject you teach (e.g.: a maths problem, a poster, an oral presentation of an experiment, a summary in a text book). 

STEP 2: Look at the table below and fill in the columns for the text you have chosen (with the help of a language teacher if needed).


How to identify a discourse genre in your subject

Who is the audience of the text?

... describe the purpose of this educational discourse genre in relation to whom the text is for.

What is the purpose and who is the audience of the text?

... describe the purpose of this educational discourse genre in relation to the scientific standards of the subject in question and who the text is for.

How is the text structured?

describe the formal discourse presentation by indicating here the outline, organisation of the ideas, the place of certain elements that are indispensable for the genre (e.g.: statement of the problem, cause and effect, chain of reasoning …)

Which linguistic elements must I be aware of?

…general linguistic characteristics that are necessary for the realisation of the task in compliance with the genre. These include verb tenses, pronouns, types of connectors...


…possible difficulties (both in reception and production)

Connectors, Nominalisation, Passive,

Subjects specific concepts, Synonyms, Everyday language vs subject language…

Making inferences…