Publication Details

Newman, R. & Myhill, D. (2016). Metatalk: Enabling metalinguistic discussion about writing. International Journal of Educational Research, 80 177-187.


Historically, theoretical consideration of metalinguistic understanding has scarcely addressed the issue in the context of writing, other than in relation to early years writing development where there is a substantial body of work. Consequently, there is very limited understanding of how older writers in the upper primary and secondary phase of schooling develop metalinguistic understanding about writing. Arguably, writing is always an act of selecting, shaping, reflecting and revising (Myhill, 2011) and thus draws crucially on metalinguistic activity. Critical to the development of this metalinguistic understanding is how teachers manage ¿metatalk¿, talk about language use in writing, during instructional interactions around writing and how teachers enable developing writers to explore their thinking about how language shapes meaning in written text. This paper, drawing on data from a large national study, will explore the nature and efficacy of teachers¿ interactions with students and how they enable high-level metatalk to occur, specifically how they create dialogic spaces for investigating meaning-making in written text. The paper will explore the close relationship between high-quality metatalk and open dialogic discourse roles for the teacher, but it will also highlight the complexity of metatalk for writing and how dialogic-monologic discourses are best viewed as a continuum which take account of other influencing factors.



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