ERIC Number: EJ776651
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jul
Reference Count: 12
Analyzing the Writing of English Learners: A Functional Approach
Schleppegrell, Mary J.; Go, Ann L.
Language Arts, v84 n6 p529-538 Jul 2007
Writing is difficult for students who are learning English, as they often struggle to express what they really want to say. Writing is difficult for their teachers, too, who often struggle to respond in ways that are helpful. In this article, the authors offer an approach that looks at students' writing from a functional linguistics perspective, allowing them to recognize strengths and focus on what writers need to learn. The approach offers ways of linking meaning and structure that help students write in fuller and more effective ways. Using the framework of systemic functional linguistics (SFL), they illustrate how teachers can use students' writing to identify features that are relevant to a particular task and then help students expand their control of those features (Matthiessen, Slade, & Macken, 1992). The approach calls for close analysis of the language of students' texts and is best accomplished by teachers working together to identify the language features. By discussing the functional grammar constructs and investigating how students use language in their writing, teachers can build their understanding and share ideas about how to further support students' growth in writing English. Teachers can respond to the writing of students who are learning English by asking three questions about meaning: (1) What is the text about?; (2) How is judgment/evaluation expressed?; and (3) How is the text organized? These questions identify grammatical features that are functional for writing particular kinds of texts. The authors draw on functional linguistics and illustrate with texts written by four fifth and sixth grade immigrant students. (Contains 1 table and 3 figures.)
Descriptors: Second Language Learning, Grade 5, Grade 6, Immigrants, English (Second Language), Writing (Composition), Linguistics, Teaching Methods, Writing Instruction, Language Usage, Writing Improvement, Grammar
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site: http://www.ncte.org/journals
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 5; Grade 6
Sponsor: California Univ., Santa Barbara. Linguistic Minority Research Inst.
Authoring Institution: N/A