4 Discourse Analysis
The important position that discourse analysis occupies in applied linguistics has come about because it enables applied linguists to analyse and understand real language data, for example, texts written by first and second language learners, or recordings of the spoken output of second language learners, or of the interaction between teachers and learners or among learners themselves in classrooms. It also enables us to understand better the kinds of discourse that language learners are exposed to outside the classroom: the language of service encounters in shops, banks, restaurants, etc., the language of newspapers, the language of everyday informal conversation. In addition, such analyses can assist language teachers and materials writers to evaluate language course books in terms of how closely they approximate authentic language, or what needs to be modified when authentic texts are brought into the classroom. Language testing can also gain a great deal from looking at real language use as a source of criteria for the evaluation of test performances.