Discourse is a formal, usually academic, and lengthy discussion of a specific topic or issue. It may be spoken or written. It also makes use of language as a tool to convey meanings and to provoke action among the readers or audience. In addition, a discourse may be a scholar’s discussion of his/her interpretation of a certain concept or theory, or may be his/her critique of another scholar’s work.
You may not be aware of it, but you had already produced a discourse when your professor required you to analyze a literary text based on a particular theory, when your boss asked you to develop and present a process for your department, when you wanted to express your thoughts through a poem or a short story and more.
There are four types of discourse: argument, description, exposition and narration. It is important to get yourself familiar with these as they may serve as your guide in developing claims, issues or topics in the future. They may also serve as your references, especially in reviewing for English proficiency exams, like the IELTS Academic, since these types of text are often written in a formal style.
If you are eyeing for study (undergraduate and graduate levels) and professional registration in an English-speaking country like the UK, Australia, Canada and others, you may have to take the IELTS Academic exam and acquire the necessary band score (depends on the university and the country). There are review centers for IELTS that assess test takers’ language abilities and train them to speak fluently, write intelligibly, listen attentively and read carefully in preparation for the aptitude test. An IELTS review center in Manila conducts mock exams and practical tests to ensure accuracy of a test taker’s skills. It also offers one-on-one coaching and online training.
Here are the four types of discourse:
1. Argument –This type of discourse aims to persuade or convince readers. It appeals to logic instead of emotions. A writer presents relevant claims or counterclaims and supports them with sufficient evidence. To prove the validity of his/her claim, he/she presents statistical data, experts’ opinions, previous and current studies related to his/her argument, etc. Moreover, it is written in a formal style to show the writer’s objectivity.
The IELTS review center in Manila engages test takers in writing exercises to hone their skills especially for the Writing component. Instructors read the students’ works, give them feedback and point out what areas need improvement. Keep in mind that knowing how to develop an argumentative discourse is essential in Task 2 of both IELTS Academic and General Training Writing exams.
2. Description – This type of discourse triggers sensory images among readers. A writer who wishes to produce a descriptive discourse makes use of his/her impression of a certain phenomenon. In addition, his/her impression is influenced by prior knowledge, experience, culture, among others.
3. Exposition – This type of discourse presents previous studies and updates about a specific issue. It seeks to clarify or explain a phenomenon, and it usually discusses less explored topics.
4. Narration –This type of discourse is similar to storytelling. It may be arranged in a linear or nonlinear structure and may be written in various perspectives (first, second or third-person point of view). It also often appeals to emotions.
Particularly in Task 1 of the IELTS Academic Writing exam, you will be asked to interpret visual information. It can be a graph, chart, table or diagram. Review centers for IELTS provide students with practice tests that are on par with the actual exam. It gives test takers an idea on what they will most likely encounter during the exam, thus allowing them to prepare sufficiently.
These discourse variations are not only helpful in developing your response specifically in the IELTS Writing exam, but also in your future endeavors where you will prepare critical papers, reports, proposals and others. Employers, nowadays, require potential and current employees of intermediate speaking and writing skills.