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Revista signos

versión On-line ISSN 0718-0934


CHAMORRO, Diana; BARLETTA, Norma  y  MIZUNO, Jorge. The language for teaching and learning Natural Science: A case of missed opportunities for citizenship education. Rev. signos [online]. 2013, vol.46, n.81, pp.3-28. ISSN 0718-0934.

This paper presents an analysis of the teacher-textbook- student interaction that takes place during the development of the topics ‘Water’ and ‘Air’ in eighth grade. The purpose is to analyze to what extent the discourse features of a Natural Science school textbook, mediated by the teacher´s discourse, facilitate the students´ understanding of natural events and contribute to the development of citizenship competences. The methodology of the study combined classroom ethnography and discourse analysis. The language of the textbook is analyzed from the perspective of the experiential metafunction within Functional Systemic Linguistics; namely, grammatical metaphor, transitivity and ergativity. At the clause level, classroom discourse was analyzed in terms of the speech functions that realize the interpersonal metafunction. At the level of discourse segments, patterns of interaction including Interrogation-Response-Feedback (IRF) sequences were examined. Results suggest that the language of the textbook contains a large number of non-ergative material processes and a large number of nominalizations. The teacher repeatedly resorts to IRF sequences, in which she gives orders and asks for specific information. The language of the students tends to imitate many of the features of the language of the text and of the teacher, without evidence of elaboration and criticism. These findings suggest that some linguistic features of the text, as well as the language used by the teacher, do not (neither) facilitate the understanding of the concepts under study, nor do they (nor) foster competences among students that would enable them to exercise informed and conscious citizenship.

Palabras clave : Discourse analysis; Functional Systemic Linguistics; citizenship education; textbook; classroom discourse.

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