An analysis of the use of cognitive discourse functions in English-medium history teaching at university

English for Specific Purposes

In this paper we focus on teachers’ use of discourse functions as transmitters and builders of content knowledge in the context of English-medium instruction (EMI) at the university level. Couched within the construct of Cognitive Discourse Function (CDF) (Dalton-Puffer, 2016), we analyze 6 two-hour lessons delivered by three lecturers in history. In line with the competences set out by the Spanish Ministry and the Department of History at the University of the Basque Country (Spain) for the history degree, this analysis allows us to examine how cognitive functions are operationalized in real classroom language. The study aims to analyze whether CDFs are instrumental in the acquisition of competences in history. Our findings reveal that teachers frequently use complex CDFs by combining different types of discourse functions to achieve their communicative goals and pave the way for students’ acquisition of history competences. We conclude by putting forward some refinements and specifications of CDFs in terms of what is required by history as a discipline.