Suggestions toward Some Discourse-analytic Approaches to Text Difficulty: With Special Reference to ‘T-unit Configuration’ in the Textual Unfolding

Document Type : Original Article


Algonquine College, Canada


This paper represents some suggestions towards discourse-analytic approaches for ESL/EFL education, with the focus on identifying the textual forms which can contribute to the textual difficulty. Textual difficulty / comprehensibility, rather than being purely text-based or reader-dependent, is certainly a matter of interaction between text and reader. The paper will look at some of the textual factors which can be argued to make a text more or less readable for the same reader. The main focus here will be on academic texts. The high cognitive load and low readability of the expository texts in various academic disciplines will be argued to belong to certain textual strategies as well as variations in the configurations of the T-units as the prime scaffolding for the textualization process. Different categories of these variations to be discussed here will be exemplified from a few academic and expository registers. More extensive textual analyses will, of course, be necessary in order to be able to make evidential suggestions for possible correlations between certain types and clusters of T-unit configurations on the one hand, and cognitive load and readability indices on the other, across various academic registers, genres and disciplines.