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What Are the Best Tips for Teaching Discourse?

By Bobby R. Goldsmith
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several tips that can make teaching discourse a worthwhile experience for students and the instructor alike. The first is to make the instruction as relevant as possible to the students. If a student cannot find a way to relate to the material, he may not learn it. Another tip for teaching discourse is to divide the class into groups and to assign each group a particular type of discourse. A demonstration of the differences between speech communication and written communication can be especially helpful to beginning students. Other tips include the creation of bullet point outlines that feature the most important concepts in your lesson plan and the incorporation of visual aids, such as PowerPoint® presentations.

The type of discourse dictates the specific way that a teacher enacts a lesson plan. A broad, introduction to discourse requires the instructor to provide a comprehensive survey of numerous concepts as well as a general analysis of theory from scholars in the field. The best tip for such a course is to find real-world examples in contemporary culture that help illustrate a particular topic or concept. An illustration can help students better understand the material as some of the writings may come from thinkers and philosophers of a previous century, whose writings may be dense and particularly inaccessible to beginning students.

Another tip for helping students learn complex material is to break a class into groups. Group learning, when focused on a particular task, such as analyzing a brief passage on the meaning of written discourse in semiotics, puts several minds on the task. Students can collaborate, share ideas, discuss interpretations, and develop a better understanding of the material. Group work tends to mirror several basic elements of teaching discourse as both spoken and written communication take place in a closed system directed toward a specific goal.

Contemporary technology offers several ways of making dense and complex material more accessible to students. For example, students might be shown a scene from a movie in which two characters engage in dialogue. The instructor can break down all of the elements of the discourse that takes place on screen, relate it to the material in the lesson plan, and encourage class discussion. Another tip for teaching discourse is to use PowerPoint® presentations to break out the most fundamental concepts in the lesson plan. This breakout will help students to take notes on the most important elements and may help them remember the concepts visually during an exam.

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