A discourse community is a group of people who share a set of discourses, understood as basic values and assumptions, and ways of communicating about those goals. Linguist John Swales defined discourse communities as “groups that have goals or purposes, and use communication to achieve these goals”. There are a very specific set of characteristics that define a discourse community. A discourse community has a specific set of public goals that it intends to achieve, and these goals are the core foundation of the community and define the purpose of a discourse communityr’s basis. A discourse community consists of a group of people communicating with one another with a common set of goals and interests.
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The term discourse community is now more than thirty years old since it was apparently first coined by Martin Nystrand, a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Nystrand 1982). Since then, it has been broadly used and debated by researchers in applied language studies as a way of identifying that communications mainly function within conventions and expectations established by communities of several varieties. As this interest in the concept has thrived, we have come to see that these communities are, in fact, distinguished by numerous features, such as how localized they are, what origins they have had, and what kinds of activity are essential to their presence.
A discourse community can be considered similar to a social network made up by individuals who share some set of communicative purposes. There are different types of discourse communities. Those consisting of people who all work at the same place (as in a factory or a university department), or at the same profession in the same area (all the bakers in a town). Then, there are some discourse communities who function at a much larger scale and aim to cover a bigger area. These discourse communities could be at a national or international level, covering areas globally. The third kind of discourse community is the one which is like a hybrid of the other two. These communities work both on a local and global scale.
The discourse community that will be discussed in this study is ?African Students Association. This community qualifies as a discourse community as it fulfills all the necessary requirements of a discourse community. The African Student Association (ASA) was formed in the year 2017 with the noble aim of creating a new space for students to grow, learn and be supported outside of the classroom. Before the initiative of the African Student Association (ASA), the campus had not seen an active equivalent organization for a lot of years. Martha-Marie Bervell 18 and Regina Baffoe 18 are the student leaders for the African Student Association. Amy Anderson, Associate Provost for Global and Intercultural Affairs and Executive Director for the Center for International Programs and Dr. Dorothy Mensah-Aggrey, Administrative Specialist for Curriculum Design and Adult Catechesis for the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives provide guidance as the advisors for the student-led organization.
We established the African Student Association to create a sense of unity and inclusivity amongst students from all ethnic backgrounds, specifically African students, and to introduce cultural aspects of the different regions in Africa, Regina Baffoe expresses. It is a way for students to feel like they have a family on campus, and to have the opportunity to develop connections with people of similar cultures. Additionally, ASA serves as a resource for students to learn about events, tutoring sessions, service opportunities, and scholarships that are offered through different organizations on campus.
The African Students Association or ASA qualifies as a discourse community as it has all six characteristics that a discourse community must have according to linguist John Swales.
The first characteristic of a discourse community is A discourse community has a broadly agreed set of common public goals. Now, it is obvious that African Students Association or ASA fulfills the requirement because it does have a very specific goal that it is thriving to achieve. And that goal is creating a new space for students to grow, learn and be supported outside of the classroom. The African Students Association helps create a sense of unity and inclusivity amongst students from all ethnic backgrounds, specifically African students, and to introduce cultural aspects of the different regions in Africa. According to Regina Baffoe, one of the founders of African Students Association, it is a way for students to feel like they have a family on campus, and to have the opportunity to develop connections with people of similar cultures. Additionally, ASA serves as a resource for students to learn about events, tutoring sessions, service opportunities, and scholarships that are offered through different organizations on campus.
1) The second characteristic of a discourse community is A discourse community has mechanisms of intercommunication among its members. African Students Association fulfills this requirement also. It has a lot of means of communication amongst its members. They communicate with one another via phone calls, text messages, social media groups like Facebook and messaging group chats like WhatsApp, they also hold meetings where the members get a chance to talk face-to-face, promising healthy communication amongst the members.
2) The third characteristic of a discourse community is A discourse community uses its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback. ASA also follows this requirement as it has a website dedicated to provide the necessary feedback to the outsiders. The organization also has a Facebook page that serves the purpose of communicating with its followers on the social media platform also. Both of these media help provide all the necessary information one needs to know about ASA and its activities.
3) The fourth characteristic of a discourse community is A discourse community utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims. ASA also has this characteristic as it uses stuff like banners, flyers and banners to raise awareness among individuals. Pamphlets are distributed, advertisements are put up on social media platforms, bake sales are organized. All of these mediums are used to promote the genre of the organization.
4) The fifth characteristic of a discourse community is In addition to owning genres, a discourse community has acquired a specific lexis. ASA has jargon specific that is unique to its own community of African students. Native dances are performed; ethnic ways of communication are used that are usually unknown to any outsider.
5) The sixth and final characteristic of a discourse community according to John Swales is A discourse community has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise ASA fulfills this requirement too as it has its fair share of novices as well as experts that have vast grip on the theme and working of the organization. There are well-educated and well-informed individuals like the founders and the Directors that constitute the management, and, there are also some fresh students regularly enrolling in the organization as novices. Hence, the workflow is going smoothly with no hindrances.
Group Of People. (2019, May 23).
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