Human interactions appear in the form of communication, and this communication can either be in terms of spoken or written discourse. Discourse is a word derived from a Latin word, discursus, and it means conversation or speech. Therefore, in any communicative event, discourse is the dominant feature. In fact, when people are conversing, it is said that they are engaging in a discourse.
Discourse is applied in many situations including education, social contexts, political contexts, legal contexts and many other contexts. In all these contexts, there are various analysis criteria that can be used to understand the discourse. This is because people engaged in discourse have to understand for it to be said that they are communicating.
Cohesion occurs in texts when some interpretations of the discourse are dependent on one another. Cohesion is also concerned with formal links that tie different parts of a discourse together. This means that a text can only be decoded by applying another element in the same discourse. Therefore, a student, in an academic context, will associate constituents of a sentence or chapter to understand the concept being explained. He will look at features such as conjunction, ellipsis, anaphora among others to understand the concept.
This is the relationship of a discourse that makes the constituents of a text have some logical relationship with each other. The material or discourse content must be presented in proper sequence so that it does not confuse the recipient; the material should build on each other. This relationship creates a relationship in the speaker such that the reader can create a mental representation of the information presented.
This means that the person giving the message should have the willingness to deliver the message; he should deliver his message in a deliberate and conscious manner. In a school context, the teacher’s intention is to teach so that students can understand. Therefore, the teacher is delivering his content consciously and deliberately.
In order for a conversational material to have any relevance, the speaker and the hearer must be in agreement; the listener should be willing to listen, and the speaker should be willing to speak; they have some underlying rules guiding them. In an academic situation, the information presented should be that which is relevant to the syllabus. Therefore, the communication product of the speaker should be acceptable to the listener or audience.
In any discourse situation, some information should be communicated. This ensures that the discourse has some content. For instance, in an academic discourse, the information should flow in a two way dimension; from the students to the teacher and from the teacher to students.
Intertexuality means that, in order to understand a text, one needs to refer to the world outside the text; the world outside the text becomes important to the interpretation of the text. In an academic context, the reader will make some reference of things outside the classroom some as to understand the content being presented by the teacher.
The circumstances in which the language is used must be relevant to its application. For instance, the teacher should use some language with which the learners will identify. This will facilitate good communication in the classroom.
A good discourse context should take all these criteria in to consideration as they are important for the understanding of any discourse. They help for a good relationship between the speaker and the listener, and this facilitates good communication.