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Title: A 'good enough' grammatics: Developing an effective metalanguage for school English in an era of multiliteracies
Contributor(s): Macken-Horarik, Mary (author)
Publication Date: 2008
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Abstract: Textuality is 'core business' in school English but its nature is increasingly problematic, especially within a multiliteracies context. In this paper I explore the metalanguage issue through a seafaring metaphor, picturing English as a ship we are steering through uncertain waters where films, posters and video games jostle Shakespeare's plays and contemporary novels, all demanding analysis. What kinds of tools will serve our navigational needs as we journey across a sea of change? In this paper, I explore the challenge of a grammatics that will work for school English, drawing on Halliday's distinction between language in use and metalanguage. I argue that a 'good enough' grammatics needs to accommodate four realities of school English: (i) the specifics of texts – the instance, (ii) larger semiotic potentials – the system, (iii) diverse social-semiotic practices, (iv) enhanced student repertoires. But a good enough metalanguage is not enough. In order to work productively with these tensions, we need a protean mind. Tackling contemporary textuality requires a similar ability. The protean mind is alive to changes of form (and mode) and able to see commonalities across forms of textuality. It is also attuned to realities of institutional power and the possibilities of new semiosis. In this paper, I argue for the usefulness of systemic functional grammatics in fashioning a 'good enough' metalanguage for contemporary English and its teachers.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Name: ISFC 35: 35th International Systemic Functional Congress, Sydney, Australia, 21st - 25th July, 2008
Source of Publication: Proceedings of ISFC 35: Voices Around the World, p. 43-48
Publisher: 35th ISFC Organizing Committee
Place of Publication: Sydney, Australia
Field of Research (FOR): 130204 English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl LOTE, ESL and TESOL)
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: E1 Refereed Scholarly Conference Publication
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School of Education

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