Forms and Functions of English Discourse Markers Among Secondary School Students’ Debating Discourse in Makueni County
Katei, Esther Ndanu
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Discourse is the language in use. A study on discourse markers (DMs) falls under discourse analysis which deals with the exploration of what language is employed for and therefore, it cannot be restricted only to the description of linguistic forms independently of the purposes these forms are designed to serve. DMs are common in spontaneous communication and play a significant role in any spoken interaction. The current research focuses on the forms and functions of English DMs occurring in debating discourse of Makueni County Secondary School students, their functional categories and how the class/level of the student influences the choice of these markers. Although several studies have focused on other discourse types like conversation, media discourse, speech and classroom situation, the aspect of Kenyan Secondary school students’ use of English discourse markers during debating is not addressed to the best knowledge of the current researcher. This study therefore aimed at highlighting the frequency and logical nature of DMs among Kenyan secondary school students during debates. The data was collected by audio recording five (one during club time and four, that is, one per class during lesson time) live debate sessions of secondary school students from a school that was purposively selected. Using content analysis, the data is presented in percentages and frequency tables and qualitatively analyzed using Schiffrin’s (1987) model of English discourse markers and Halliday and Hasan’s (1976) model. The findings reveal that secondary school students use discourse markers evidenced by the presence of the eight DMs chosen for further analysis. Secondly, these markers were used to express additive, contrastive and causal relations. Thirdly, the study established that there was a correlation between the class of the student and the use of DMs as evidenced by the fact that the Form Four students registered the highest number of DMs while the Form One students had the least. From the study findings, it is recommended that there is need for English language teachers and school administrators to utilize listening and speaking skills by strengthening active participation of secondary school students in interactive discourse, where students can be guided on the proper use of DMs.