Knowing about the English Language: A Wrinkle in Time

By Exley, Beryl; Wilson, Gael | Practically Primary, February 2012 | Go to article overview

Knowing about the English Language: A Wrinkle in Time


Exley, Beryl, Wilson, Gael, Practically Primary


The 2010 release of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority's (ACARA) Australian Curriculum English (hereafter ACE) heralded a new momentum for the teaching of English. Aside from the overt focus on multimodal text and three contemporary cross-curriculum priorities of 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures', 'Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia' and 'Sustainability', the ACE introduces an innovative approach for talking about language conventions and their use. An overarching statement, taken from the 'Language: Knowing about the English language' section of the ACE (ACARA, 2010, pp. 4-5), introduces the strand:

   [The Australian Curriculum] English uses standard
   grammatical terminology within a contextual
   framework, in which language choices are seen
   to vary according to the topics at hand, the nature
   and proximity of the relationships between the
   language users, and the modalities or channels of
   communication available.

The innovation is the weaving of two different language theories. By way of explanation, the use of 'standard grammatical terminology' points to elements of traditional grammar (ACARA, 2010, p. 4). The statement that 'language choices are seen to vary' according to the 'relationship between the language users' and 'modalities' borrows from Systemic Functional Linguistics (hereafter SFL). This approach, refined by Michael Halliday (see Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004) when he was the Foundation Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sydney, has been adapted to some Australian school settings for a couple of decades under the term 'functional grammar'. The ACARA statement also uses the term 'contextual framework', another element that draws on understandings of the 'text in context' model from SFL. The statement also refers to the three systems of meaning developed in SFL theory: field, tenor and mode. The 'topics at hand' concern the field or subject matter of the text. The 'relationships between the language users' is a description of tenor. There is also reference to 'modalities' or channels of communication. The important point is that the model of language appropriated in the ACARA ACE (2010) pays attention to both form (syntax) and function (semantics).

In the next section, we recount how one Year Five teacher, Ms Imogen Nashon (pseudonym), employs this 'new' metalanguage to develop her students' understandings of noun and adjective groups. She used a series of reading lessons as a precursor to a series of writing lessons focused on the ACE Year 5 learning outcome from the language strand (ACARA, 2010):

Understand how noun and adjective groups can be expanded in a variety of ways to provide a fuller description of the person, thing or idea (ACELA1508)

Ms Nashon is an experienced teacher working in a low-socio economic, high multi-cultural/multilingual context on Brisbane's outskirts. Whilst Ms Nashon is an avid reader, her Year 5 students are reluctant readers and generally speaking, hesitate with new genres. The students, however, are very responsive when Ms Nashon reads aloud from her extensive and wide-ranging library collection. The current novel, A Wrinkle in Time, was written by Madeline L'Engle in 1962 and reprinted in 2007. This science fantasy recounts the experiences of a brilliantly minded but socially awkward adolescent named Meg (Margaret Murry) whose father disappears whilst he is working on a top-secret government project. The novel deals with a number of mature themes through the eyes of the young female protagonist, including the perennial 'good versus evil' and the pros and cons of social conformity. It is a challenging but satisfying read and the students actively engage in the multiple comprehension activities Ms Nashon introduces. In brief, during the read aloud sessions the students are encouraged to activate their prior knowledge, make predictions, connect to their own experiences, create mental images, draw inferences, discuss symbols and other literary devices and externalise their internal understandings (for example, see Tompkins, 2010). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Knowing about the English Language: A Wrinkle in Time
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.