SFL and Other Approaches to Foreign Language Teaching/Learning

Systemic Functional Linguistics and Foreign Language Teaching - Anne McCabe

Anne McCabe [+-]
Saint Louis University
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Anne McCabe is a faculty member of the English Department at Saint Louis University, Madrid Campus, Spain, where she teaches linguistics, ESL and writing pedagogy to undergraduate and graduate students. She has published widely on application of Systemic Functional Linguistics to analysis of educational and media texts including An Introduction to Linguistics and Language Studies (Equinox).


In terms of language learning theories which have come to the fore since the advent of communicative language teaching, sociocultural theory (SCT) has been connected to SFL, given the affinity in their social interactionist perspectives (Ferreira, 2020, Byrnes, 2006). Also, SFL has been compared to other usage-based approaches to language, which have also been applied to language learning, such as discourse functionalism and cognitive linguistics (Tyler, 2010). Lourdes Ortega points out that, while the SFL view of “additional language learning as semiotic development in an L2, or the development of flexible meaning-making L2 capacities across contexts” seems optimal for focusing foreign language development, she suggests that other linguistic approaches that focus on meaning in context – namely, cognitive and corpus linguistics – have ‘been endorsed more strongly’ (Ortega 2009: 234) in the study of second language acquisition. However, from SFL, notably, the concept of grammatical metaphor, alongside the notions of what is distinctive between spoken and written grammar (Halliday, 1989), has been used to characterize complexity, (Ortega, 2015; Ryshina-Pankova, 2015; Ferreira, 2020) one of the standard measures of foreign language development in the individual, along with accuracy and fluency. Chapter 3 locates SFL with respect to these and other theoretical perspectives on foreign language teaching/learning, in terms of the types of classroom applications and research studies carried out under their respective umbrellas.

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McCabe, Anne. SFL and Other Approaches to Foreign Language Teaching/Learning. Systemic Functional Linguistics and Foreign Language Teaching. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2025. ISBN 9781000000000. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=42809. Date accessed: 25 Feb 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.42809. Sep 2025

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