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The given summary provides an insight into the main argument and supporting evidence discussed in the essay by James Paul Gee under the title Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction. The latter was published in the 171st volume of the Journal of Education (#1) in 1989. The author claims that a new discipline of literacy studies integrates in its research field “psycho” and “socio” approaches to language. Such idea leads to viewing the notion of Discourse as more than just language used, but a combination of grammar, expressing right values, beliefs, and attitudes, as well as the background of social experience and enculturation. As a so-called “identity kit”, discourse is claimed to be acquired through a combination of overt instruction (not quite efficient, but necessary) and the process of “apprenticeship” in the target culture. Such combination ideally leads to achieving literacies that define us as members of the society.

Discourse is presented as a more complicated structure than language for several reasons. First of all, it combines formal aspects of language (i.e. grammatical categories), expressing right values, social practices in the context of discourse usage, and social identities. Secondly, while language knowledge can to a certain degree be received in a classroom through overt instruction. Discourse mastership depends more on a supported and scaffolded interaction with people who are fluent in the given discourse. Primary Discourse is acquired through primary socialization, which lays the foundation for further processes of acquiring dominant and non-dominant secondary discourses. The third difference is explained in the theorem of the author, while a far from fluent language learner can speak the language, a person who is not fluent in discourse cannot engage as an insider of the community. On the other hand, being inclusive of language, discourse shares some common feature with it. Discourses may undergo the process of contact (i.e. primary and secondary Discourses), which may lead to transfer of features between the Discourses.

It is claimed by the author that our literacies define who we are and delineate our identities. Out of all the supporting evidence offered, there is one that stands out in particular. The “adapted” learners of language or discourse have seemingly more advantages in acquiring them. Discourse has an ability to change a person through the process of social interaction they undergo. On the other hand, the fact that “maladapted” students start learning later and with fewer advantages in fact makes them undergo more positive changes that define their identities in a more global way. They require a greater degree of complicity with values conflicting with the ones in their home-based discourse practice. The fact that such students already possess their metaknowledge can help them analyze and resist while advancing. Moreover, the example with a 5-year old girl who pretends to read a story shows that with acquisition of certain type of secondary discourse comes the accumulation of greater knowledge that has to do with ideological truisms of the society, understanding of natural events in the community and some general problems. Therefore, the less “adapted” students of both language and discourse are equipped with a necessary “kit” for their success: ““mushfake”, resistance, and meta-knowledge: this seems to be like a good combination for successful students and successful social change”.

In conclusion, all the evidence suggests that socialization and “apprenticeship” play one of the most crucial roles in the process of acquiring fluency in discourse. The latter defines our status, and one is able to express one’s identity trough language in the form of Discourse literacy being applied properly in a particular social situation. What strikes me, however, is the idea of the author that there true acquisition is not possible. Does this mean that some of us will never be able to enter the “gate” and become an “insider” of a particular discourse community?

Code: Sample20

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