Stories and scenarios: lecturers’ use of fantastic hypothetical events

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    A number of studies have examined the occurrence of stories in lecture contexts, and have suggested that stories can encourage student engagement and the acquisition and retention of lecture information content. Some of these studies have analysed story structures in terms of Labov and Waletzky’s model (1967) or the more elaborate model developed by Martin (2008). Such models work well for stories that recount events that took place in past time, but they do not capture another type of story, the hypothetical scenario, sufficiently well. Drawing on prior research into stories in lecture discourse, and ‘Imagining Scenarios’ (Ädel 2010, 2012), we identify and describe passages in lectures where listeners are invited to imagine a fantastic hypothetical situation. Scenario identification criteria were developed, and examples were extracted from the British Academic Spoken English (BASE) corpus, the Engineering Lecture Corpus (ELC), and the Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English (MICASE). Novice EMI lecturers may understandably be nervous about straying away from the delivery of facts and into the realms of fantasy, but our findings suggest that scenario-telling is part of the experienced lecturer’s repertoire, and is an engaging way of elaborating abstract technical terms, concepts, or arguments central to a disciplinary topic.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number101022
    JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
    Early online date5 Jun 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


    • lecturer training
    • story
    • scenario
    • corpus analysis
    • EMI
    • lectures


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