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Article
Teacher education in changing times: A systemic functional linguistics (SFL) perspective
TESOL Quarterly (2010)
  • Meg L. Gebhard, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Abstract

Teachers' work is changing rapidly worldwide but is rarely a topic of sustained focus in the literature on teaching English as an additional language. Despite this lack of robust scholarly attention, ESL, bilingual, and content specialists working in primary, secondary, and tertiary contexts contend with the demands of changing demographics and educational policies. For example, in the United States, No Child Left Behind legislation has highlighted the need to provide English language learners (ELLs) with access to content-based instruction and to make schools, especially those serving economically struggling communities, accountable for addressing the education of nondominant students. These goals, while on the surface laudatory, have been undercut by a lack of attention to teachers' professional development and commitment to quality native-language instruction. Consequently, many teachers have had little or no preparation for providing the assistance that second language (L2) learners need to understand how academic language works in the types of texts they are routinely required to read and write in school. This lack of attention to how academic English works in disciplinary texts has contributed to the persistent achievement gap between majority and minority students, a gap that only widens as students enter high school (Enright, this issue). In response, as Enright makes clear, there are calls for greater attention to academic language development in literacy studies and teacher education. Therefore, this article describes how L2 literacy researchers and teacher educators in the United States are using Halliday's (1996, 2007) theory of systemic functional linguistics (SFL) to support ESL and content teachers in scaffolding disciplinary knowledge and explicitly teaching how academic English constructs disciplinary ways of knowing, doing, and being in school.

Keywords
  • Academic language; Genre; Grammar instruction; Halliday; L2 writing; Metalanguage; Systemic functional linguistics; Teacher education
Publication Date
2010
Citation Information
Meg L. Gebhard. "Teacher education in changing times: A systemic functional linguistics (SFL) perspective" TESOL Quarterly Vol. 44 Iss. 4 (2010)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/meg_gebhard/11/