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Helping Students Understand the Nature of Texts

Submitted by Rosa, USA

It is important for learners to understand the role of grammar within the context of longer stretches of discourse – or “texts”. There are several ways in which students can be introduced to the concept of text, the ways in which texts work and how they reflect grammatical choices. For example:

  • Have students read two texts with the same content and identify what makes one an effective text and the other not effective;
  • Have students compare written and spoken texts on the same topic (e.g. a news event) to compare how they are organized and how the grammar of the texts
  • Have students listen to or read examples of transactions such as requests made in different contexts (e.g. among friends with a boss) and see how features such as modals and pronouns work together to create politeness.
  • In more advanced academic contexts, give students examples or model texts of different types of writing and have them analyze how the text is put together and to use the information to inform their writing, e. by studying the different ‘moves’ or sections that make up a text. Students focus on questions such as: how does a text begin? Where is the main idea introduced?