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Functional Grammar

Discussion in 'English' started by manxli, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. Hi
    In these days of emphasis on phonetic programs, we may forget about how those of us in the mainstream actually learnt to read. The use of 'functional grammar' has seen widespread success in Australia, particularly with slow learners and EFL learners but is still relatively unknown in european schools.
    I've put together a short intro in a non-technical manner here - http://manxman.ch/moodle2/course/view.php?id=4
    If you've any thoughts, constructive criticisms or questions, I'd welcome any feedback. Anyone using such schemes already?
    Regards
    Alan
     
  2. Hi
    In these days of emphasis on phonetic programs, we may forget about how those of us in the mainstream actually learnt to read. The use of 'functional grammar' has seen widespread success in Australia, particularly with slow learners and EFL learners but is still relatively unknown in european schools.
    I've put together a short intro in a non-technical manner here - http://manxman.ch/moodle2/course/view.php?id=4
    If you've any thoughts, constructive criticisms or questions, I'd welcome any feedback. Anyone using such schemes already?
    Regards
    Alan
     
  3. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    Hi Alan,
    Thanks for the post and the website. I studied SFL and Halliday when doing my MEd. and it's interesting that you highlight this paradox:
    • <address style="margin-bottom:0cm;">If learning
      activities focus only on correct language use, there is a risk of
      limiting the language varieties available and students will often be
      restricted to minimal responses or even no response at all.
      </address>
    • <address style="margin-bottom:0cm;">If learning
      activities focus only on simple communicative phrases, students may
      spontaneously respond with more confidence but never learn the more
      abstract, accurate and effective use of the language.</address>
    I did use SFL with my IELTS learners at the time of studying this and was impressed at how it helped them enhance their writing, particularly through the idea of nominalisation. What I had problems with, however, was how to use SFL to address accuracy (which is currency in external exams), especially when they had reached such a level on the back of more-or-less traditional grammar concepts.
    In my current context, the first part of the paradox is not an issue as they can communicate quite fluently (apart from a few Elementary-level learners), but accuracy is a huge issue. Most learners have little to no knowledge of grammatical terms and concepts and struggle even with word classes. Using your own example with the teacher feedback, it seems that changed 'has' to 'have' and 'name' to 'named' are the suggested activities but how does this move a student on in terms of mastery of such concepts as '3rd person present simple' etc.? Are you suggesting that through repeated exposure to or comparison with accurate usage of these structures they will correct their own language use? This does seem to be what happens in Hallilday's context of the child learning language, but what of L2 learners, particularly when the L1 is another form of English (which serves them well on a daily basis) and the target language is UK/US SE? Is grammatical metalanguage not an essential tool in being able to discuss such errors?
    I know there are a lot of questions here, but because my context is neither EFL nor US/UK native speakers and I have a different curriculum to deliver which includes creative responses to text, it would be great to hear your ideas.
    Thanks.

     
  4. Hi 'roaming'
    Thanks for the positive feedback. Yes, you highlight an important point and also one which needs addressing if SFL is gain any popularity with mainstream working teachers. I work with slow learners aged 7-16 in a small special school, so I'm concerned with basic literacy on a daily basis.
    Did you look at the 'comparison trad v funct. grammar'? I think SFG has a role to play in introducing the 'strata' structure of language and text. The problem with many of my students, is that they are often introduced to traditional grammar terms before they are even able to successfully read and understand short simple texts.
    I'm actually a music teacher and only teach English because I'm british and work in a Swiss (German speaking) school. Actually, I use a similar strategy in music tuition whereby I get kids to look at notation in a graphical manner first, identifying phrases of a song by shape and nature. I only start them with learning note names, keys and note values and a later stage. i.e. A 'top down' approach.
    I think the L1/L2/dialect issue is a matter of identity to some extent. An american educational researcher (Mary Bucholz) proposed that success in life is dependant on being able to assume multiple identities and language forms appropriate to context. As many young people nowadays appear to live in an 'isolated' socio-cultural space of their own, they might not see any need to assimilate the practices, language forms and culture of neighbouring cultural spaces i.e. the school's. Of course any real situation will be much more complex.
    Best regards





     

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