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ERIC Number: EJ843822
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-May
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-1175-8708
Knowledge through "Know How": Systemic Functional Grammatics and the Symbolic Reading
Macken-Horarik, Mary
English Teaching: Practice and Critique, v5 n1 p102-121 May 2006
This article investigates the potential of systemic functional linguistics (SFL) for exploring students' achievements in writing, thus moving beyond "deficit models" of grammar in school English. It considers the semantic features of successful interpretations of examination narratives, using what I call the "symbolic reading". Halliday has suggested that we need to distinguish between grammar and grammatics, with the grammatics viewed as independent from but sensitive to language in use. In this article, I apply his notion of grammatics to analyze the linguistic basis of students' interpretive achievements. The article investigates three aspects of A-range interpretations of different narratives. These symbolic readings indicate a preference for relational transitivity of a synoptic kind, an ability to reformulate story significance through elaboration and rhetorical "spans" between material semiosis (in Theme) and abstract significance (in New). The analysis brings to light what often appears entirely intuitive on the part of successful English students but is nevertheless crucial to their success in examination English. The final section of the article considers some implications of the grammatics for teachers who want to prepare their students to read unfamiliar narratives symbolically. (Contains 2 tables and 1 footnote.)
Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research, University of Waikato. PB 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand. Tel: +64-7-858-5171; Fax: +64-7-838-4712; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia