Language-Focused Discourses


Attending to the collective aspects of human knowledge, activity, and identity

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … language-encoded systems of meaning/signification
  • Knowing … one’s system of meaning/signification
  • Learner is … a languaging agent
  • Learning is … participating in and evolving (systems of meaning/signification)
  • Teaching is … enculturating (into systems of meaning/signification)




Language-Focused Discourses attend to the role of symbol systems in constituting and maintaining knowers’ realities, as well as to their role is enabling and constraining personal possibilities within those realities.


The most extreme versions of Language-Focused Discourses are sometimes interpreted as asserting that all reality is linguistically effected. However, almost all Language-Focused Discourses are more modest in their claims. All contend that language influences perception, interpretation, and action. That is, these discourses are rarely interested in debating whether there’s a reality out there; they’re more concerned with interpretations of reality.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2021). “Language-Focused Discourses” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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