ERIC Number: ED411523
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
A Functional Approach to Composition Offers an Alternative.
Hartnett, Carolyn G.
Composition Chronicle: Newsletter for Writing Teachers, v10 n5 p5-8 Sep 1997
When it comes to teaching students how to correct errors in mechanics and usage, English composition teachers have a problem in determining what and how to teach. An approach is developing overseas which comes from a type of linguistics called "functional," because it describes how languages work rather than only its forms. A branch that has evolved to serve education is Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). It has a well developed theory with applications ranging from teaching second languages to generating language on computers. Five concepts from this approach which can be applied to teaching are: (1) multiplicity of purposes, (2) influence of context on patterns of content and language, (3) relation of grammar to meaning, (4) flow of information, and (5) differences between writing and speech that influence punctuation as well as wording. SFL helps teachers to relate grammatical structures to meaning rather than to forms. Interest in pedagogical application of SFL is increasing, but it is not yet well known in North America. Its examples and technical jargon are foreign and confusing. Because application in Australia began with the lower grades, the pedagogy and parts of the theory relevant to college teaching have not yet been fully developed and publicized, although there is progress. To apply SFL to teaching composition, for example, a teacher might help a student outside of class with a draft in a useful little genre: a letter applying for a grant from a charitable foundation with North American ideology and culture. (Contains 13 references.) (CR)
Publication Type: Guides - Non-Classroom; Journal Articles
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Practitioners; Teachers
Authoring Institution: N/A