Redefining conceptions of grammar in English education in Asia: SFL in practice

Authors

1 University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

2 Indonesia University of Education, Indonesia

Abstract

This  case  study  analyzes  how  a  Taiwanese  EFL  teacher  participating  in  a  U.S.  based
MATESOL program made sense of systemic functional linguistics (SFL) and genre based
pedagogy  in  designing  and  reflecting  on  literacy  instruction  for  EFL  learners  in  Taiwan.
Using  longitudinal  ethnographic  methods,  the  findings  indicate  that  this  teacher’s
conceptualization  of  grammar  shifted  from  a  traditional  sentence-level,  form-focused
perspective  to  a  more  functional  understanding  operating  in  interconnected  ways  across
genre and register features of  texts. This shift occurred as she developed an ability to use
SFL to discover how language works in children’s literature. However, the degree to
which  this  teacher  was  able  to  use  SFL  and  genre  based  pedagogy  in  classroom  practice
was  influenced  by  the  mandated  curriculum  framework  and  assessment  practices  in  the
context  of  where  she  taught  when  she  returned  to  Taiwan.  The  implications  of  this  study
relate  to  re-conceptualizing  grammar  in  EFL  instruction  and  teacher  education  in  Asian
contexts.

Keywords

Main Subjects


Introduction
The  changing  role  of  English  as  a  global
language  has  placed  new  demands  on
learners  of  English  in  Asian contexts.
These  demands  involve  using  English  to
learn  disciplinary  knowledge,
communicate  for  scholarly  exchanges,
carry  out  economic  and  political
transactions,  and  participate  in  various
communities of practice where varieties of
world  “Englishes”  are  used  for  social,
academic,  and  professional  purposes

(Pennycook, 2007, p. 30; see also Crystal,
2003;  Hasan  &  Akhand,  2010;  James,
2008;  Matsuda  &  Matsuda,  2010;
Warschauer, 2000).
 
In  response  to  these  new  demands,
policymakers  have  enacted  reforms  aimed
at improving students’ English proficiency
by  pushing  English  education  into  earlier
levels of schooling and mandating teachers
adopt  a  more  communicative  approach  to
English  language  teaching  (Butler,  2011;
Hiep,  2007;  Kirkgoz,  2008).  However,  to
date,  it  is  unclear  if  these  reforms  are
enhancing students’ English proficiency,
especially  their  ability  to  read  and  write
academically.  Rather,  many  EFL  students


continue to graduate from high school and
even  college  with  only  the  most
rudimentary  level  of  English  language
proficiency—a  level  that  will  not  support
them  as  they  enter  global  communities
where  English  is  used  to  negotiate
disciplinary,  social,  institutional,  and
professional  goals.  We  argue  that  these
unsatisfactory  results  are  due  to  a  wide
variety of complex factors, one of which is
how  the  field  of  second  language
acquisition has conceptualized grammar in
teacher  education  programs.  In  an  attempt
to  respond  to  this  issue,  we  call  for  a
critical  reconceptualization  of  how
grammar  is  understood  and  taught  within
Asian  contexts  in  elementary  and
secondary  schools.  Specifically,  we
suggest that Halliday’s understanding of
grammar  as  a  meaning-making  resource
provides  English  language  teachers,
teacher  educators,  policymakers,  and
researchers working in Asia with new and
potentially  more  productive  ways  of
providing  English  language  and  literacy
instruction.  
 
Halliday’s  conception  of  grammar  as  a
semiotic  resource  stands  in  contrast  to  a
Skinnerian  perspective  of  grammar  that
advocates  teachers  drill  and  practice
language forms or structural patterns (e.g.,
the audiolingual method).  It  also stands in
contrast  to  a  Chomskian  perspective  of
grammar  that  maintains  students  develop
linguistic  competence  through  natural
communication (e.g., the natural approach;
see  Lightbown  &  Spada,  2013).  Rather,
Halliday’s meaning-making perspective of
grammar  shifts  the  focus  of  instruction
away  from  drilling  and  practicing
language  forms  or  playing  communicative
games  onto  supporting  students  in
developing  a  metacognitive  awareness  of
language  patterns,  variations,  choices,  and
styles  as  they  make  meaning  with  various
interlocutors,  for  multiple  purposes,  and
across  different  contexts.  This  awareness
is  what  Kramsch  and  Whiteside  call
“symbolic competence,” which they argue
should  be  the  goal  for  second/foreign
language education in today’s globalized
and  multilingual  world  (Kramsch  &
Whiteside, 2008, p. 667).
 
In  making  a  call  for  a  reconsideration  of
what  grammar  is  and  how  it  develops
within  second/foreign  language
classrooms,  we  provide  an  overview  of
Halliday’s theory of SFL and how scholars
such as Jim Martin (2009) have developed
an SFL based pedagogy to support L1 and
L2  students  in  negotiating  the  demands  of
the  types  of  texts  students  routinely  are
required  to  read  and  write  in  learning
disciplinary  knowledge  in  English  in
school.  Next,  we  report  on  a  longitudinal
ethnographic  case  study  of  how  a
Taiwanese  teacher  we  call  “Chenling”
attempted to make sense of SFL and genre
based  pedagogy  over  the  course  of  her
participation  in  a  MATESOL  program  in
the  United  States  and  in  her  first  year  of
teaching  in  a  rural  Taiwanese  middle
school.  Aspects  of  this  study  were
previously  published  in  Gebhard,  Chen,
Graham,  and  Gunawan  (2013).  However
in  this  article  we  focus  more  specifically
on  how  Chenling  used  SFL  to  analyze
culturally  relevant  literary  texts  as  a  way
of  teaching  language,  literacy,  and  culture
as  she  transitioned  from  her  MATESOL
program  to  her  first  year  in  the  classroom
in Taiwan. We conclude with a discussion
of  the  implications  of  this  case  study  in
light  of  a  call  for  a  more  functional
conception of grammar in EFL classrooms
in Asia.  
 
Grammar  as  a  meaning-making
resource
A  functional  perspective  of  grammar  is
rooted in Halliday’s systemic functional
linguistics  (SFL).  This  perspective
attempts  to  explain  how  people  get  things
done  with  language  and  other  semiotic
means within the cultural context in which
they  interact  (Halliday  &  Matthiessen,
2004). As the name of Halliday’s theory
suggests,  language  is  systemic  in  that  it

involves  users  making  functional  semiotic
choices  that  operate  simultaneously  at  the
phonological,  lexical,  syntactic,  and
discourse  levels  depending  on  the  cultural
context  in  which  communication  is
negotiated.  In  other  words,  when  we  use
language,  we  choose,  consciously  and
unconsciously,  particular  ways  of
pronouncing  or  graphically  rendering
words,  making  grammatical  constructions,
and  creating  coherence  across  stretches  of
discourse  depending  on  the  nature  of  the
content  we  are  trying  to  communicate
(everyday  or  discipline  specific),  who  we
are  trying  to  communicate  with  (familiar
or  unfamiliar),  and  the  mode  through
which  interactions  take  place  (oral,
written,  or  computer-mediated).  These
choices  reflect  and  construct  the  ideas  we
wish to express, the social relations we are
trying  to  establish  and  maintain,  and  how
we  wish  to  manage  the  flow  of
communication to achieve the purposes of
interaction.
 
In  articulating  this  context-sensitive
perspective  of  language,  Halliday  (1975)
maintains  that  all  semiotic  practices
involve  three  metafunctions  that  act
simultaneously.  The  ideational
metafunction  realizes  ideas  and
experiences  (e.g.,  the  subject  matter  or
content  of  a  text);  the  interpersonal
metafunction  constructs  social  relations
(e.g., social status and social distance); and
the textual metafunction manages the flow
of information to make discourse cohesive
and coherent (e.g., weaving given and new
information  together  across  extended
exchanges  of  information  in  conversation
or  written  text).  Halliday  and  Matthiessen
(2004)  summarize  this  perspective  by
stating that “every message is both about
something and addressing someone” and
that  the  flow  of  information  in  a  message
is  organized  to  create  “cohesion  and
continuity as it moves along” (p. 30).  
 
From  this  social  semiotic  perspective,
grammar  is  understood  as  a  resource  for
making meaning in context, not as a set of
decontextualized  rules  or  list  of  fixed
edicts  regarding  correct  usage.  Rather,
grammar is a dynamic system of linguistic
choices  that  expands  as  language  learners
are  apprenticed  to  constructing  a  greater
variety  of  meanings  in  a  wider  number  of
contexts.  Halliday  (1993)  writes  that  this
view  of  grammar  as  a  semiotic  resource
“opens  up  a  universe  of  meaning,  a
multidimensional  semantic  space  that  can
be indefinitely expanded and projected”
(p. 97).  
 
In drawing on Halliday’s conception of
grammar  to  theorize  second  language  and
literacy  development,  Gebhard,  Chen,
Graham,  and  Gunawan  (2013)  write  that
not  only  do  L2  learners  physically  and
cognitively  mature  as  they  grow  up  and
learn  varieties  of  the  same  language  and
additional  languages,  but  the  culture
contexts in which they interact also expand
and  become  more  diverse  as  they  move
back and forth among family, community,
peer  groups,  social  media,  school,  and
eventually  work.  As  these  contexts
expand,  the  ideational,  interpersonal,  and
textual  functions  realized  through
language  and  other  semiotic  means  also
expand  and  become  more  syntagmatically
and  paradigmatically  diverse,  creating
more meaning potential and choices within
the  system.  This  diversification  drives  the
development of the L2 learners’ semiotic
resources  in  regard  to
phonology/graphology,  lexicogrammar,
and  discourse  semantics  as  well  as  the
evolution  of  the  system  as  a  whole
(Gebhard,  et  al.,  2013,  p.  109;  see  also
Halliday, 1993).
 
SFL based pedagogy
The  expanding  social  contexts  and
associated  semiotic  activities  in  which
language  learners  participate  construct
what  Martin  calls  different  genres.  Martin
(1992)  defines  genres  as  “staged,  goal-oriented  social  process[es]”  (p.  505).
Within  the  culture  of  schools,  these  social

processes  include  such  activities  as
reading  literary  narratives  in  English,
describing  a  classification  system  in
science,  arguing  a  perspective  regarding
historical  events  in  social  studies,  or
explaining  a  statistical  analysis  in
mathematics.  Following  Halliday  and
Martin,  we  maintain  that  as  L2  learners
participate  in  these  expanding  social
networks  in  and  out  of  school,  they  use
different  genres  in  both  their  first  and
second  languages  and  are  socialized  into
new  ways  of  knowing  and  being  that
expand the semiotic resources available to
them.  In  describing  Martin’s
understanding  of  genres,  our  goal  is  to
capture  how  learning  English  as  a  second
or foreign language reflects and constructs
cultural  linguistic  practices  (Gebhard,
Shin,  &  Seger,  2011;  Martin  &  Rose,
2008).  For  the  purposes  of  this  study,  we
focus  on  two  fundamental  genres  that
students  encounter  in  learning  a  second
language  and  developing  advanced
academic  literacies  (Byrnes,  2009;  Brisk,
2014;  Schleppegrell,  2004):  the  genre  of
narratives  and  the  genre  of  responses  to
literature.
 
Each genre has a set of organizational and
structural  features  that  are  specific  to  that
genre.  Narratives  in  English,  for  example,
typically have an “orientation” in which
the  writer  attempts  to  situate  the  reader  in
a  particular  time,  place,  or  social  context,
and to introduce the main characters. They
also have a “sequence of events” or series
of “complications” in which the writer sets
up  a  series  of  problems  the  characters
confront. Through these  events, the reader
develops  a  deeper  sense  of  who  the
characters  are  and  how  they  have  been
shaped  by  their  experiences,  or  not.
Moreover,  narratives  typically  have  a
“resolution” stage in which the characters
come  to  terms  (or  not)  with  the  problems
at  hand.  This  stage  often  shows  how  the
characters  have  been  changed  (or  not)  by
their  experiences  and  may  contain  an
evaluation  or  comment  that  signals  the
overall  meaning  of  the  narrative  as  a
whole.
 
In  contrast,  responses  to  literature  in
school are structured more like arguments.
They  typically  begin  with  an  introduction
that  identifies  the  guiding  thesis  of  the
argument  and  provides  a  preview  of  the
supporting  points  the  student  will  make.
The subsequent sections each consist of an
elaboration  of  these  points  that  draws  on
evidence from the literary text in the form
of quotes, which are then explicated. Last,
responses  to  literature  typically  conclude
with  a  reiteration  phase  in  which  the
author  restates  the  main  thesis  and
summarizes  the  key  points  made  in  the
paper (Christie, 2012).
 
In  addition  to  typical  structural  features,
any  instance  of  a  genre,  including
narrative  and  literature  response,  is
constructed  with  a  set  of  identifiable
lexical  and  grammatical  features  that  are
functional  for  that  specific  genre.  In
describing these linguistic features, Martin
draws  on  Halliday’s concept of register,
which  consists  of  field,  tenor,  and  mode
choices  (see  Martin  &  Rose,  2008,  p.  11).
The  field  of  a  text  refers  to  how  a  writer
uses  the  ideational  grammatical  resources
at his or her disposal to realize the content
of the text. These resources include the use
of  verbal  groups  to  realize  different  types
of “processes.” Unlike the traditional term
“verb,” the concept of a “process” captures
functionally  the  semiotic  difference
between  types  of  verbs  such  as  material,
mental,  verbal,  and  relational  verbs  that
construe different types of actions, ways of
sensing,  ways  of  saying,  and  ways  of
being.  Likewise,  the  functional  term
“participant” captures more precisely the
lexico-grammatical  relationships  that  exist
between  nominal  groups  and  types  of
processes  within  a  text.  Last,  the  term
“circumstance”  captures  how  specific
grammatical  resources  support  writers  in
constructing  meanings  related  to  the  time,
place,  and  manner  in  which  events  in  the
text unfold (see Schleppegrell, 2004, p. 47,
for  a  detailed  discussion  of  processes,
participants, and circumstances).
 
Second, the tenor of a text refers to how a
writer  uses  interpersonal  grammatical
resources  within  his  or  her  repertoire  to
construct social relationships with readers.
For  example,  writers  consciously  and
unconsciously make “mood” choices by
using  interrogatives,  imperatives,  or
declaratives  to  construct  social  distance
and  power  dynamics  in  texts  (e.g.,  Why
don’t you close the window?  versus  Close
the  window  or  You’ve  left  the  window
open). Likewise, writers make “modality”
choices  to  express  the  degree  of  truth,
probability,  or  obligation  of  a  proposition
(e.g.,  Would  you  mind  closing  the
window?  compared  to  You  must  close  the
window).  Last, writers exploit “appraisal”
resources  to  construct  attitudinal  or
evaluative  meanings  (e.g.,  Would  you  be
so kind as to close the window versus Shut
the  damn  window!;  see  Schleppegrell,
2004,  p.  47,  for  a  detailed  discussion  of
mood, modality, and appraisal).
 
Last,  the  mode  of  a  text  refers  to  how  a
writer  uses  different  textual  resources  to
manage  the  flow  of  ideas  and  make  a  text
cohesive.  These  resources  include  how
writers  grammatically  weave  together
given and new information to move a text
forward.  In  SFL  terms,  the  given
information in a clause is referred to as the
theme and the new information is referred
to  as  the  rheme.  In  addition,  mode
resources  include  the  use  of  cohesive
devises  to  construct  logical  relationships
between  clauses  (e.g.,  and,  moreover,
because,  as  a  result;  see  Schleppegrell,
2004,  p.  48,  for  a  detailed  discussion  of
theme/rheme  patterns  and  cohesive
devices).
 
As a way of supporting teachers in making
the  workings  of  different  genres  and
register  features  transparent  to  students,
Martin  and  his  colleagues  began
collaborating with teachers in the 1980s to
develop  an  SFL/genre  based  approach  to
designing  curriculum  and  instruction
(Martin, 2009; Rose & Martin, 2012). This
approach, known as the “teaching/learning
cycle,”  was  developed  to  apprentice
students  to  reading  and  writing  the  genres
they  are  likely  to  encounter  in  learning
specific  subject-disciplinary  knowledge
across  grade  levels  in  schools  (Martin,
2009,  p.  6).  The  goal  of  this  cycle  is  to
expand  students’  meaning-making
repertoires  by  providing  them  with  model
texts,  explicit  instruction  in  genre  and
register  features  of  model  texts,  and  time
for  critical  analyses  of  author’s
grammatical  choices.  The  steps  of  this
cycle  include:  building  students’
background  knowledge  through  hands-on,
dialogic experiences to prepare for specific
reading  and/or  writing  tasks;
deconstructing  model  texts  using
functional  metalanguage  to  name  genre
stages  and  register  features;  jointly
constructing  texts  with  students  to  make
linguistic  know-how  visible  and  the  range
of  linguistic  choices  available  to  students;
and  gradually  apprenticing  students  to
produce  texts  more  independently  by
providing  less  scaffolding  as  students
become  more  knowledgeable  users  of  a
particular genre over time (Gebhard, Chen,
&  Britton,  2014,  p.  108;  Gibbons,  2002;
Rose & Martin, 2012).
 
In  sum,  SFL/genre  based  pedagogy
provides  a  principled  way  for  EFL
teachers  to  support  language  learners  in
critically  analyzing  authentic  texts  as  a
way of developing academic literacies and
exploring  cultural  issues  simultaneously
(see  Byrnes,  Maxim,  &  Norris,  2010,
regarding  learning  German  as  a  foreign
language  at  the  university  level  in  the
United  States).  However,  despite  literary
narratives  being  one  of  the  most  powerful
mediums  for  language  learning  and
discussing multicultural issues, many EFL
teachers  have  difficulty  in  engaging
students  in  critically  reading  literary
narratives  and  in  writing  literary
responses.  These  teachers  lack  an  explicit
awareness  of  how  language  works  in
constructing these two fundamental genres
and  how  to  teach  EFL  students  to
explicitly  and  critically  identify  the
linguistic features of these types of texts so
students  might  be  better  able  to
comprehend  culturally  relevant  texts  as
well  as  develop  the  ability  to  construct
their  own  texts  in  English  more  expertly
over time.
 
To  contribute  to  understanding  how  EFL
teachers  make  sense  of  SFL  based
pedagogy  and  how  their  understanding
informs  their  approach  to  designing
literacy  instruction,  this  case  study
explores  how  a  Taiwanese EFL teacher’s
conception  of  grammar  took  shape  over
the  course  of  her  experiences  in  a
MATESOL program informed by SFL and
genre  theory  (Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  &
Gunawan, 2013).
 
A case study: Chenling’s conceptions of
grammar and her teaching practices
The  context  of  this  study  is  a  MATESOL
program  in  the  United  States  that  offers  a
33-credit Master’s Degree in Education.
This  program  draws  upon  a  sociocultural
perspective  of  language  and  literacy
development.  It  is  also  unique  in  that  it
incorporates  analysis  of  children’s
literature  as  a  way  of  apprenticing  teacher
candidates  from  both  U.S.  and
international  contexts  to  teaching
language,  literacy,  and  multiculturalism
simultaneously  (see  Gebhard,  Willett,
Jimenez, & Piedra, 2011, for a description
of the program; Botelho & Rudman, 2009,
for  a  description  of  a  critical  approach  to
children’s literature). In this context, we
attempted to make a critical and functional
perspective  of  language  and  academic
literacy development accessible and usable
to EFL teachers from Asia. These teachers,
many  of  whom  were  from  China  and
Taiwan,  were  enrolled  in  this  program
with  the  goal  of  improving  their  English
and  returning  to  their  home  countries  to
teach  EFL  in  a  variety  of  contexts  (e.g.,
elementary, secondary, and college levels).
In  attempting  to  understand  how  Asian
teachers  make  sense  of  SFL  and  genre
based  pedagogy  we  conducted  a
longitudinal case study of how Chenling’s
conception  of  grammar  changed  (or  not)
over  the  course  of  her  participation  in  an
SFL informed graduate degree program. In
addition,  we  analyzed  how  her  teaching
practices  reflected  an  ability  to  implement
SFL  based  pedagogy  (or  not)  once  she
returned to teaching in Taiwan (Gunawan,
2014).  
 
The  methods  used  in  this  case  study  were
qualitative  in  nature,  relied  on  multiple
sources  of  data,  and  were  divided  into
three distinct phases of data collection and
analysis between 2009 and 2011 (Gebhard,
Chen,  Graham,  &  Gunawan,  2013;
Gunawan,  2014).  Phase  One  focused  on
documenting Chenling’s  participation  in  a
14-week  introductory  course  in  SFL  and
genre based pedagogy. Data collection and
analysis  included  observational  fieldnotes
from  seminar  meetings,  transcribed
seminar  discussions,  formal  and  informal
interviews  and  email  exchanges  with
Chenling,  and  an  analysis  of  Chenling’s
midterm  and  final  course  papers.  The
midterm  required  Chenling  to  conduct  a
genre and register analysis of a section of a
literary  text  and  design  instruction  that
would  teach  EFL  learners  to  deconstruct
this  text  to  support  them  in  learning
language,  exploring  culturally  relevant
topics,  and  improving  their  reading
comprehension.  The  final  course  project
required  Chenling  to  conduct  a  genre  and
register  analysis  of  an  L2  student  writing
sample  and  design  instruction  to  support
this student’s literacy  development  with
specific reference to the genre of response
to literature.
 
Phase  Two  consisted  of  documenting  and
analyzing  Chenling’s  experience  in  all
other  courses  in  her  MATESOL  program.
 
These courses included: Theory of Second
Language  Acquisition;  L2  Reading  and
Writing  Development;  L2  Curriculum
Development;  ESL/EFL  Methods;  Critical
Perspectives  on  Children’s  Literature;
Multicultural Education; Assessment of L2
Language  and  Literacy  Practices;  Student
Teaching  Practicum;  and  a  course  on
leadership  in  the  profession.  In  reviewing
Chenling’s experiences in other courses in
her  MATESOL  program,  we  collected
final  course  papers  and  interviewed
Chenling  about  her  use  of  SFL  concepts
and SFL based pedagogy (if at all) through
formal  and  informal  interviews  as  well  as
email exchanges.
 
Phase  Three  consisted  of  collecting  and
analyzing  data  regarding  Chenling’s
teaching practices during her first year as a
full  time  teacher  in  a  middle  school  in
rural Taiwan. Data collection and analysis
focused  on  samples  of  curriculum
materials  and  formal  and  informal  email
exchanges with Chenling.  
 
As  reported  in  Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,
and  Gunawan  (2013),  there  are  several
limitations  to  this  methodology.  First,
during  Phase  Three,  we  were  unable  to
observe  Chenling’s  classroom  practices.
Rather,  we  relied  on  an  analysis  of  the
curricular  materials  she  used  and  her
responses  to  formal  and  informal
interviews  conducted  over  email.
Therefore,  we have no  first-hand accounts
of  her  actual  classroom  practices  during
her  first  year  of  teaching  in  Taiwan.  The
second  limitation,  as  well  as  possible
strength, of our methodology relates to the
different  roles  we  played  over  the  course
of  the  study.  For  example,  Wawan,  an
Indonesian man, drew on his past work as
a  teacher  educator  in  his  home  country;  I-An,  a  Taiwanese  woman,  drew  on  her
experiences  as  an  EFL  teacher  in  Taiwan;
and  Meg,  a  white  American  woman,  who
was  the  instructor  of  the  14-week  course
focusing  on  SFL  and  genre  based
pedagogy,  drew  on  her  experiences  as  a
researcher  of  L2  academic  literacy
development  and  teacher  educator  in  the
United  States.  These  roles,  as  participant
observers,  shaped  our  interactions  with
Chenling and therefore data collection and
analysis  in  ways  that  are  typical  of
qualitative  case  study  methods  (Dyson  &
Genishi,  2005).  And  finally,  qualitative
case study methods do not lend themselves
to  researchers  making  causal  claims  or
claims  that  are  generalizable  to  other
contexts.  Rather,  these  methods  allow  us
to  gain  insider  and  outsider  insights  into
how Chenling made sense of SFL as a way
of  adding  to  the  growing  empirical  work
regarding  the  knowledge  base  of  L2
teacher  education  (Andrews,  2007;  Borg,
2006; Freeman & Johnson, 2005; Johnston
& Goettsch, 2000).
 
A  portrait  of  Chenling  learning  to  use
SFL and genre based pedagogy
To  present  the  findings  from  this
qualitative  case  study,  we  provide  a
portrait of Chenling’s attempts to make
sense  of  SFL  and  genre  based  pedagogy
over  the  course  of  her  participation  in  a
MATESOL  teacher  education  program
and  in  her  first  year  as  a  full  time  EFL
teacher  in  Taiwan.  In  providing  this
portrait,  we  begin  by  describing  how  she
initially  re-inscribed  SFL  metalanguage
with  traditional  conceptions  of  grammar
when  she  was  first  introduced  to
Halliday’s  theory  of  language  and
Martin’s conception of genre theory and
the  teaching  and  learning  cycle.  We  then
detail how Chenling’s ability to use SFL
metalanguage  more  functionally
developed  as  she  used  SFL  tools  to
analyze  children’s  literature  and  L2
writing  samples  in  ways  that  provided  her
with  insights  into  how  to  support  the
academic literacy practices of L2 learners.
Last,  we  describe  how  Chenling  was
ultimately unable to implement SFL based
pedagogy  in  Taiwan  due  to  a  number  of
institutional  constraints  including
requirements  that  she  adhere  closely  to  a
traditional,  form-focused  textbook  and
form-focused assessment practices used to
evaluate  students  and,  ultimately,  their
teachers.  
 
Shifting toward a functional conception of
grammar through an analysis of children’s
literature and L2 writing  
Chenling, like many international students,
entered  her  MATESOL  program  with  a
very  strong  understanding  of  traditional
grammar  and  an  ability  to  analyze  the
structure  of  a  sentence  using  formal
metalanguage.  She  also  held  a  tacit,  but
very  firm  belief  in  drill  and  practice
approaches  to  language  teaching  based  on
her  previous  experiences  as  an  L2  learner
and EFL teacher (Gunawan, 2014; see also
Borg,  2006).  Therefore,  analyzing  how  an
SFL conception of grammar might work to
construct  meaning  in  longer  stretches  of
discourse, especially in literature, was new
to  her.  For  example,  early  in  her  first
semester in the program when she enrolled
in  the  Introduction  to  SFL  course,
Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  and  Gunawan
(2013)  report  that  Chenling  felt  strongly
that  “[Traditional] grammar  is  considered
the easiest way to teach English language.
When  teaching,  I  usually  follow  a
textbook.” She further added, “It’s hard to
connect—I  always  think  that  grammar  is
verb, noun—I think it is hard to think [of]
genre as part of grammar”  (p.  116).  As  a
consequence,  during  the  first  couple  of
weeks  in  the  SFL  course,  her  assignments
and  participation  in  class  discussions
reflected  a  pattern  in  which  she  translated
functional  metalanguage  into  traditional
form-focused  terms  in  ways  that  limited
her  ability  to  develop  a  meaning-making
perspective  of  grammar.  In  analyzing
Phase  I  data,  we  coded  this  stage  of  her
trajectory  in the program as “pouring old
wine into a new bottle.” We used this
metaphor to capture how Chenling, as well
as  other  students,  used  new  SFL
vocabulary  in  ways  that  re-inscribed  these
functional  concepts  with  a  formal  and
structural understanding. For example, she
translated “process types” as “verbs that
come  after  the  subject”  and
“circumstances” as “adverbs that modify
subjects’  action”  (Gebhard,  Chen,
Graham, & Gunawan, 2013, p. 116).
 
In  addition,  Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  and
Gunawan  (2013)  write  that  Chenling’s
ability  to  think  of  “genre”  as  well  as
aspects of field, tenor, and mode “as part
of grammar” developed through her ability
to  use  SFL  metalanguage  as  a  tool  to
analyze  award-winning  children’s
literature  for  her  midterm  project  and  a
writing  sample  produced  by  an
intermediate L2 learner for her final exam.
For  her  midterm  she  analyzed  In  the  Year
of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (1984) by
Bette  Bao  Lord.  Based  on  this  analysis,
she  then  developed  a  plan  for  how  she
would  support  L2  students  in  learning  to
critically  discuss,  read,  and  write  about
this potentially high interest and culturally
relevant  children’s  book.  This  novel
relates the experiences of a young Chinese
girl named Shirley who immigrated to San
Francisco  in  the  1950s.  In  her  analysis,
Chenling  identified  the  genre  stages  and
key  register  choices  the  author  employed.
At  the  genre  level,  Chenling  noticed  that
the  novel  exhibited  the  genre  stages
typically  found  in  narratives,  including  an
“orientation, complication, and resolution”
(Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  &  Gunawan,
2013, p. 116).
 
Next,  she  selected  a  short,  but  important
passage  from  the  novel  on  which  she
conducted a register analysis. At this level
of  analysis,  Chenling  elected  to  focus  on
the  interactions  between  the  field  and
mode choices in the text. Specifically, she
noted  how  the  author  used  pronominal
referencing  systems  to  create  a  lexical
chain  that  built  up  information  about
Shirley’s feelings across the passage.  For
example,  Chenling  used  a  highlighter  to
mark  personal  pronouns  and  other  lexical
items  referring  to  Shirley  in  the  following
excerpt:
 
It is so unfair.  She thought, must I
drool  like  Chow  Chow,  eyeing
each  mouthful  until  someone  is
good and ready to toss a scrap my
way? If Father was here, he’d tell.
He  would  never  treat  me  like  a
child, like a girl, like a nobody.  
 
In  other  words,  by  literally  highlighting
pronouns  and  nominal  groups  in  this
lexical  chain,  Chenling  was  able  to
identify  and  track  participants  related  to
Shirley and show how Shirley refers to the
pronouns  she,  I,  and  me;  the family’s dog
Chow Chow; and the nouns a child, a girl,
a  nobody. This “tracking of participants,”
according  to  Chenling,  could  be  a  key
teaching  practice  used  to  support  L2
reading  comprehension  but  is  one  that  is
not  used  by  EFL  teachers  who  only  focus
on traditional grammar. Chenling used this
insight  to  develop  a  plan  for  how  she
would  design  future  instruction,  reporting
that  she  would  use  this  passage  to  teach
pronouns  and  new  vocabulary  so  students
could  comprehend  the  passage,  but  also
she  would  teach  students  how  to  use
lexical  chaining  to  support  them  in
interpreting the meaning of what they read
more critically.
 
For  her  final  project,  Chenling  analyzed  a
student  writing  sample  produced  by
“Adam,”  a  seventh-grade  ESL  student
from Malaysia who had been in the United
States  for  five  years.  Chenling  observed
Adam  in  an  American  middle  school
classroom,  collected  curricular  materials
and  samples  of  his  writing,  and
interviewed  him  as  well  as  his  teacher.
Chenling’s analysis focused on a unit of
study  that  required  Adam  to  read  a  young
adult novel A Step from Heaven by An Na
(2001) and to write a “literary response”
regarding the experiences of immigrants in
America  as  depicted  in  this  novel
(Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  &  Gunawan,
2013, p.116).
 
Before analyzing Adam’s text, Chenling
drew on Schleppegrell’s  work  (2004)  to
identify the key genre and register features
of a literary response. Chenling found that
a  literary  response  is  usually  realized  in
the form of an argumentative or persuasive
essay  where  a  writer  presents  a  thesis
statement,  provides  arguments  with
supporting examples taken from the novel,
and finally sums up his or her position. In
analyzing  the  genre  stages  of  Adam’s
literary  response,  Chenling  noticed  that
this essay contained a thesis statement, and
each  paragraph  contained  quotes  cited
from  the  novel  but  overall  lacked  clear
arguments.  Rather,  she  noted  that  he  used
selected  quotes  to  simply  re-narrate  a
summary  of  the  novel  (Gebhard,  Chen,
Graham, & Gunawan, 2013, p.116).
 
Chenling  further  identified  register
features in Adam’s text that  made  his  text
read  more  like  a  narrative  than  an
argument.  For  example,  Chenling  noticed
that Adam’s text relied predominantly on
concrete participants in the theme position
rather  than  abstract  ones  related  to
analyzing the main character’s experiences
as  a  Chinese  immigrant  (e.g.,  I,  the
mother,  the  daughter).  These  linguistic
choices made his text “only tell a summary
of  the  story”  rather  than  “tak[ing]  a
position”  and  “show[ing]  his  critical
thinking”  (Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  &
Gunawan,  2013,  p.  116).  In  addition,
Chenling  commented  that  Adam  could
have  used  nominalization,  a  rhetorical
strategy  that  turns  concrete  happenings
into  abstract  concepts  and  can  be  used  to
pack  more  information  into  each  clause.
As  reported  in  Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,
and Gunawan, 2013, Chenling wrote:   
 
Adam  did  not  build  his  arguments
from  clause  to  clause,  increasingly
re-packaging  and  re-presenting
information  as  nominalized
participants  in  the  ensuing  clauses.
Instead,  he  often  remains  focused
on  the  same  participant,  especially
concrete participants as theme, in a

way  that  is  more  typical  of
narrative  than  expository  writing.
(Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  &
Gunawan, 2013, p.116)
 
To  support  ESL  and  EFL  students  like
Adam  in  developing  the  ability  to  write
more  expert  academic  arguments,
Chenling  articulated  an  instruction  plan
that  focused  on  building  L2  students’
genre  awareness  of  the  differences
between narrating a story and persuading a
reader  of  a  thesis.  She  planned  to  do  this
by  drawing  students’  attention  to  the
typical  genre  stages  of  a  narrative  and
comparing these stages to the stages of  an
argument  as  a  way  of  supporting  students
in  writing  more  analytically.  In  regard  to
register,  Chenling’s  instructional  plan
focused  on  guiding  students  toward
understanding  how  to  pack  more
information  into  clauses  and  how  to  build
coherence  between  clauses  by  teaching
them  to  notice  how  expert  writers  use
nominalizations  in  model  essays.
Specifically,  she  reported  that  she  would
support students in “circling where noun
phrases  and  nominalization  form  abstract
subjects”  (Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  &
Gunawan, 2013, p.116).
 
Further  exploration  with  SFL  based
pedagogy in other MATESOL courses
In  three  subsequent  required  courses,
Chenling  elected  to  further  explore  using
SFL and genre based pedagogy to support
EFL students’ abilities to critically read,
discuss, and write about culturally relevant
children’s  literature  about  Chinese
immigration.  These  courses  included  a
curriculum  design  course,  an  L2
assessment  course,  and  a  short  practicum
experience.  In  the  curriculum  design
course,  she  developed  a  unit  based  on  the
illustrated children’s story  titled  I  Hate
English (1989) by Ellen Levine. This book
also  portrays  the  experiences  of  a  young
Chinese  immigrant  who  is  frustrated  with
adjusting to school life in the United States
and  with  learning  a  language  she  resents.
In  her  unit  plan,  Chen  outlined  how  she
would  develop  students’  “genre
knowledge” by illustrating how narratives
typically have “an orientation, sequence of
events, a complication, and a resolution”
(Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  &  Gunawan,
2013, p.116).
 
In  addition,  Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  and
Gunawan (2013) report that at the register
level,  Chenling  noted  that  she  would
instruct students in using:
 
…linking  word  [connectives],
which make the story fluent; verbs,
which can specifically present how
the  characters  acted,  felt,  and
thought;  descriptive  words,  which
can create the image of readers’
mind;  dialogues,  which  will  focus
on  the  format  and  the  time  tense;
time  tense  and  explain  the  reason
why  in  some  situation  the  time
tense will change to other than past
tense. (p. 117)
 
In the L2 assessment course she continued
to  further  develop  this  curricular  unit  by
creating  a  rubric  to  assess  the  degree  to
which  students  demonstrated  an  ability  to
produce  texts  that  exhibited  the  genre  and
register  features  of  canonical  narratives.
At the genre level, these features included
producing  personal  narratives  that  had  a
clear  “orientation,  sequences  of  events,
complication,  and  resolution”  modeled
after I Hate English.
 
 In  regard  to  register  features,  this  rubric
assessed students’ narratives according to
the degree to which students used a variety
of action verbs to construct the plot of the
text,  mental verbs to capture characters’
thoughts  (e.g.,  thought,  wondered,
worried), verbal verbs to support dialogue
(e.g.,  whispered,  mumbled,  yelled,  cried),
and  cohesive  devises  to  support  the  flow
of  the  text  (e.g.,  one  day,  next,  all  of  a
sudden, in the end).
 
Last,  Chenling  had  the  opportunity  to
implement  her  I  Hate  English  unit  with  a
group  of  volunteer  ninth-grade  EFL
students in Taiwan in the summer of 2010
as  part  of  meeting  the  practicum
requirements  for  her  degree.  For  her
practicum,  she  was  required  to  implement
a  short  unit  of  instruction  and  reflect  on
her  students’  learning  using  assessment
tools  she  developed  in  the  L2  assessment
course.  In  addition,  she  was  required  to
reflect  on  her  emerging  teaching  practices
in a course reflection paper.  
 
Following the teaching and learning cycle,
Chenling  began  this  unit  by  engaging
students  in  a  discussion  of  their  attitudes
toward  learning  English  as  a  way  of
building  their  background  knowledge  or
the “field” before asking them to read and
write.  Second,  she  asked  them  to  write  a
short  story  about  a  memory  they  had
regarding  learning  English.  Third,  she
analyzed these baseline writing samples as
a  way  of  determining  the  focus  of  her
instruction.  This  analysis  revealed  that
students  were  unable  to  produce  coherent
simple  narratives  in  English  because  they
appeared  to  lack  an  understanding  of  the
genre  and  the  lexico-grammatical
resources  needed  to  coherently  and
cohesively  weave  simple  sentences
together  into  a  story.  Based  on  this
analysis,  Chenling  established
instructional  goals  that  focused  on
developing  “content,  composing
processes,  textual  forms,  and  language
patterns  to  accomplish  coherent  and
purposeful  writings”  (Gebhard,  Chen,
Graham,  &  Gunawan,  2013,  p.  117).
Fourth,  she  guided  students  in  reading  I
Hate  English  as  a  whole  class.  Fifth,  she
provided  students  with  a  model  of  a
personal  narrative  she  had  written  based
on  her  experiences  as  an  EFL  student  and
her  analysis  of  the  key  linguistic  features
of  I  Hate  English.  She  used  this  model  to
explicitly  teach  students  to  identify
targeted  genre  and  register  features  in  her
text.  Sixth,  she  instructed  students  to
produce their own narratives modeled after
I  Hate  English  and  her  text.  Last,  she
analyzed  students’  final  narratives  as  a
way  of  assessing  their  writing  and  her
lesson  plan’s  impact  on  their  literacy
development.
 
Her  analysis  of  changes  in  students’
writing  samples  and  of  her  teaching
practices revealed concerns that are typical
of many novice teachers. For example, she
reported  that  she  ran  out  of  time  and
planned  too  ambitiously  given  the  amount
of contact she had with students (e.g., four
150-minute  sessions).  She  also  described
how students, based on their understanding
of what to expect in an EFL class, resisted
her  speaking  English  in  class  as  well  as
being  asked  to  write  an  extended  text
rather  than  doing  grammar  and  translation
exercises.  She  accounted  for  this  problem
in her reflection by stating:
 
These  students  more  or  less  know
the  concept  of  writing  a  correct
sentence  in  English,  but  they  do
not practice a lot, since they don’t
have  a  formal  English  writing
program and multiple choice is the
only  type  of  assessments  to
measure  progress.”  (Course
assignment, 2011, p. 31)
 
Despite  these  limitations,  Chenling
reported  some  success.  She  reported  that
the  handout  she  made  to  scaffold  genre
knowledge  “may  have  [had]  positive
influences on students’ writing structure,
since  most  of  the  students  have  clear  and
properly  developed  genre  moves  in  their
narratives.” In regard to register features,
Chenling’s  reflection  also  provided  an
accurate  quantitative  analysis  of  the
register  features  of  students’  texts.  She
reported that students:  
 
…use an interrogative clause (e.g.,
Don’t you feel surprised?) to give a
more dialogic conversation in their
text,  and  imperative  clause  (e.g.,
don’t  forget  to  keep  learning
English)  as  a  quote  from  the
character in the story. Additionally,
the  students  were  able  to  use
various circumstances of time (e.g.,
before,  after,  now,  in  the  future,
after  class,  in  fourth  grade)  and  of
places  (e.g.,  in  the  school,  at  the
bus  stop),  adjuncts  of  frequency
(e.g.,  often,  usually,  always),  of
manner  (e.g.,  easily,  happily,
about),  and  of  degree  (e.g.,  very,
more  and  more,  not  at  all,  really,
even). (Course assignment, 2011)
 
In  sum,  in  reflecting  on  teaching  this  unit
in  an  interview,  Chenling  reported  that
previously  she  did  not  enjoy  anything
related  to  literature  in  English,  but  she
added, “I now have started to like reading
literary works in English, maybe it is good
for  me  as  an  English  teacher,  and  you
know  I  changed…because  honestly  it
[these  analyses]  made  me  change”
(Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  &  Gunawan,
2013, p. 117).
 
Despite  this  new  interest  and  some
observable gains in students’ abilities to
produce  narratives,  Chenling  remained
skeptical about the feasibility of using SFL
in  Taiwan,  especially  after  her  practicum
experience.  She  stated  repeatedly  that  she
was  interested  in  SFL  and  genre  based
pedagogy  and  that  she  had  used  concepts
learned  in  the  course  to  improve  her  own
ability to write academic papers in English
(e.g., use of nominalization in constructing
theme/rheme  patterns).  However,  she
reported that in the future, she would base
her  own  planning  on  the  kinds  of  exams
her  students  need  to  pass,  indicating  that
assessment  systems  used  in  Taiwan  were
never  far  from  her  mind  despite  the
investment  and  gains  she  had  made  in
understanding  and  applying  a  more
meaning-oriented  literature  based
approach  to  EFL  teaching  and  learning
(Gebhard,  Chen,  Graham,  &  Gunawan,
2013, p. 116).  
Drifting  back  toward  a  traditional
conception of grammar after graduating
Upon completion of her MATESOL study,
Chenling  returned  to  Taiwan  in
September,  2011,  and  began  to  teach  EFL
at  the  same  middle  school  where  she
previously  had  taught  as  a  summer  intern.
In  December  of  that  year,  she  reported  in
an  email  exchange  that  she  had  not  made
any  attempt  to  incorporate  children’s
literature  or  SFL/genre  based  pedagogy
into  her  teaching  practices.  Rather,  she
described  following  the  mandated  EFL
textbooks to teach “vocabulary, dialogue,
focus  sentence  pattern  (oral  practice),
reading,  listening  exercises”  (Email
exchange, 12/26/2011).
 
In  accounting  for  why  Chenling  did  not
draw  on  work  she  developed  in  her
MATESOL program, the data suggest that
institutional forces, related to how students
and,  therefore,  teachers  are  assessed  in
Taiwan,  constrained  her  ability  to  teach
academic  literacy  using  SFL  and  genre
based  pedagogy.  Namely,  the  education
system  in  Taiwan  tends  to  reward  EFL
teachers  for  teaching  traditional  grammar
as  efficiently  as  possible.  As  a  result,
Chenling reported that she must “finish the
textbook  by  the  end  of  the  year”  and
“prepare students for passing the exam”;
therefore, she did not “have time for SFL”
(Email  exchange,  12/26/2011).  Moreover,
the  kinds  of  assessment  her  students  are
required  to  pass  focused  almost
exclusively  on  vocabulary  memorization
and  sentence-level  grammatical
correctness  rather  than  the  ability  to
deconstruct  and  construct  meaning
critically in extended discourse. Therefore,
Chenling  reported  spending  most  of  her
instructional  time  explaining,  drilling,  and
practicing  the  decontextualized  rules  for
sentence  construction  such  as  the  correct
usage of “auxiliary verbs,” “verb tenses,”
and “adjective modifiers.”  
 
Another  force  that  discouraged  Chenling
from designing and implementing SFL and
 
genre  based  pedagogy  in  Taiwan  was  the
lack  of  institutional  attention  given  to
extended  discourse  competence  and
written  communication  abilities  at  the
middle school level. She remarked that the
mandated  curriculum  for  middle  school
English  classes  highlighted  developing
students’  “spoken  language  abilities”
through the use of “fun learning activities”
such  as  songs,  games,  movies,  and  role
play  (Email  exchange,  3/10/2012).  These
activities  focused  on  introducing  students
to the terms and dialogues that they might
encounter  when  they  travel  to  English-speaking  countries.  Moreover,  the  reading
and writing activities that were part of this
curriculum  tended  to  focus  on  reading
short  comic  books,  fill-in-the-blank
worksheets,  and  English-Mandarin
sentence translation.  
 
Conclusion and implications
In  response  to  the  changing  nature  of
English  language  teaching  in  a  globalized
world, this study reveals opportunities and
challenges  regarding  re-conceptualizing
grammar  based  on  a  Hallidayan
perspective in EFL teacher education. The
findings  from  this  study  indicate  that
Chenling  was  able  to  make  sense  of  SFL
and  genre  based  pedagogy  and  use  the
teaching  and  learning  cycle  to  design  and
implement academic literacy instruction in
a  Taiwanese  middle  school  during  her
practicum  experience.  In  sum,  the  data
suggest that over the course of Chenling’s
MATESOL  program  her  conceptions  of
grammar  shifted  from  a  form-focused,
sentence-level  perspective  to  a  more
functional  understanding  of  how  language
works  in  interconnected  ways  across
lexico-grammatical  and  discourse
semantic  features  of  specific  genres
essential  to  advanced  language  learning.
This  shift  occurred  as  she  developed  an
ability to use SFL metalanguage to analyze
the genre and register features of published
children’s  literature  focusing  on  the
Chinese  immigration  experience,  and  L2
students’ attempts to produce their own
narratives  or  literary  responses  to  these
authentic  texts.  The  insights  Chenling
gained  from  these  analyses  enabled  her  to
design instruction to support EFL students
in  reading  and  writing  academic  texts
about culturally relevant issues.
 
However,  the  degree  to  which  Chenling
was  able  to  use  SFL  based  pedagogy  in
classroom  practices  was  influenced  by  a
number  of  institutional  forces  shaping  the
teaching  of  English  in  Taiwan.  These
forces  included  a  mandated  form-focused
textbook  and  aligned  assessment  system
that  discouraged  Chenling  from  designing
instruction based on an SFL conception of
grammar  and  constructivist  perspective  of
learning.  Therefore,  despite  asserting
repeatedly  over  the  course  of  her
MATESOL  program  that  she  believed  an
SFL  based  approach  to  instruction  would
most  likely  benefit  her  EFL  students,
Chenling ultimately chose to teach English
in  ways  that  were  more  reflective  of  a
traditional  conception  of  grammar  and  a
behaviorist  perspective  of  learning.  This
disconnect between Chenling’s ability to
design  SFL  based  instruction  and  her
reported  teaching  practices  supports
findings  from  other  studies  that  highlight
how  institutional  contexts  shape  L2
teachers’  work  (Andrews,  2007;  Borg,
2006).  For  example,  the  data  regarding
Chenling’s  compliance  with  mandated
textbooks during her first  year of teaching
corroborate  Borg’s  (2006)  findings  that
“contextual  factors  can  constrain  what
teachers  do,  particularly  in  the  work  of
novice  teachers  whose  ideals  about
language  teaching  may  need  to,  at  least

temporarily, be put  aside while they come
to  grips  with  the  instructional  and  social
realities they face in schools” (p. 275).  
The implications of these findings relate to
three  issues  in  EFL  teacher  education.
First,  SFL  based  pedagogy  has  been
critiqued as too theoretical and technical to
be  accessible  and  usable  to  classroom
teachers  (e.g.,  Bourke,  2005).  This  study
supports  other  investigations  that  indicate
pre-service  and  in-service  L2  teachers  are
capable  of  making  sense  of  a  Hallidayan
perspective  of  grammar  and  using  SFL
metalanguage  to  analyze  texts  and  design
academic  literacy  instruction  for
elementary, secondary, and tertiary second
language  learners  (Aguirre-Muñoz,  Park,
Amabisca,  &  Boscardin,  2008;  Brisk,
2014;  Byrnes,  Maxim,  &  Norris,  2010;
Harman,  2013;  Moore  &  Schleppegrell,
2014). Therefore, this study highlights that
the  difficulty  of  implementing  a
Hallidayan  perspective  of  language  and
learning in EFL teacher education may not
be rooted in teachers’ abilities to act as
applied linguists, but in the field of second
language  teaching,  which  has  historically
been  shaped  by  a  Skinnerian  approach  to
L2  teaching  and  learning  (Lightbown  &
Spada, 2013).
Second, this study highlights the benefit of
pre-service  teachers  learning  to  design
curriculum  and  instruction  using  authentic
children’s literature to critically teach L2
reading,  writing,  listening,  speaking,  and
culture  simultaneously  in  ways  that
parallel  the  work  of  Byrnes  and  her
colleagues  in  Georgetown  University’s
German  Department  (see  Byrnes,  2010;
Byrnes, Maxim, & Norris, 2010). Byrnes’
department engaged in a highly successful
curriculum  renewal  project  that  created  a
genre  based  program  of  study  for
undergraduate  learners  of  German  across
all  levels  of  proficiency.  This  program
integrated the learning of language and the
study  of  culturally  authentic  multimodal
texts  and  has  demonstrated  the  success  of
this  approach  using  both  qualitative  and
quantitative measures of gains in students’
academic  literacy  development.  This
present study regarding Chenling’s ability
to  use  SFL  pedagogical  tools  to  analyze
children’s literature and design academic
literacy  instruction  for  EFL  students
suggests  that  Byrnes’  approach  has
promise  for  the  teaching  of  English  in
Asian  contexts  in  secondary  schools.
However,  additional  research  beyond  this
single  study  is  needed  to  explore  the
potential of this proposition.
Last,  this  study  highlights  the  ironies
created  by  conflicting  policies  and
practices  within  institutional  contexts
(Gebhard,  2004,  2010).  For  example,
many  Asian  countries  have  strongly
advocated  for  communicative  approaches
to  English  language  teaching  as  a  way  of
promoting  higher  levels  of  English
proficiency  to  support  their  citizens  in
participating  in  global  communities  where
world varieties of English are increasingly
used.  However,  curriculum  materials  and
assessment practices in these countries still
tend  to  focus  on  the  mastery  of  sentence-level  grammatical  structures  in  ways  that
do  not  necessarily  lead  to  successful
comprehension  and  production  of
extended  oral  and  written  texts  for
authentic  real-world  purposes.  Therefore,
the  gap  between  EFL  educational  aims,
policies, and practices in Asian contexts is
an  essential  issue  for  teachers,  teacher
educators,  policymakers,  and  researchers
to  address  if  the  field  of  EFL  is  to  make
progress  in  supporting  Asian  students  in
using  English  as  a  world  language  to
negotiate  social,  academic,  economic,  and
political goals.

 

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