Continuing Discourse on Language - A Functional Perspective, Volumes 1 and 2 - Ruqaiya Hasan†

Continuing Discourse on Language - A Functional Perspective, Volumes 1 and 2 - Ruqaiya Hasan†

11. Grammatics in schools

Continuing Discourse on Language - A Functional Perspective, Volumes 1 and 2 - Ruqaiya Hasan†

Geoff Williams [+-]
University of Sydney
Additional to his honorary appointment at this University, Geoff is an Emeritus Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, Canada, where he was Head of the Department of Language and Literacy Education from 2005 to 2010. Earlier, he held senior lecturer appointments at the University of Sydney in the Faculty of Education (1979-1993) in the fields of Primary Education and English Language, and the Faculty of Arts, Department of English, in the English Language and Early English Literature section (1993-2005).

Description

For educational linguists, grammatical description pushed ‘fairly far’ in the direction of semantics and written specifically for purposes of text analysis (Halliday, 1994: xv-xvii) poses a significant challenge. On the one hand, such a grammar provides a basis for a paradigm shift in pedagogical discourse, a shift towards interpretive discussion grounded in language itself, which is of course something some educators have long desired. However, on the other hand there is the obvious question of the grammar’s accessibility and efficacy in schooling. A grammar aiming to be useful for the exploration of semantics and context is necessarily a complex analytic framework. So is it, by design so to speak, beyond the comprehension of children? In this chapter I trace some key developments in language study in schools informed by Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) since ‘Categories of the theory of grammar’ (Halliday, 2002 [1961]), then argue that the grammar appears to be both accessible and efficacious for pedagogic purposes. The basis for this claim is a set of indicative findings from a project in Sydney on children’s development of knowledge about language, which engaged six and 11-year olds in grammatical study. I will also argue that, since every theory of grammar must be embedded in a theory of instruction to enter pedagogical discourse (Bernstein, 1990), some concepts from Vygotskian theory are crucial to the way Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) is recontextualised into school discourses.

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Citation

Williams, Geoff. 11. Grammatics in schools. Continuing Discourse on Language - A Functional Perspective, Volumes 1 and 2. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 282-310 Nov 2005. ISBN 9781845531140. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=25335. Date accessed: 06 Feb 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.25335. Nov 2005

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