What two teachers took up: metalanguage, pedagogy and potentials for long-term change

Publication Name

Language and Education


This article presents a qualitative study of the differential uptake of SFL-inspired metalanguage and SFL-based pedagogy by two senior secondary history teachers in Australia. The teachers were involved in design-based research aimed at improving disciplinary writing for high stakes examinations. While both attended the same training seminar and had similar access to support from researchers during the project, their uptake of the metalanguage and pedagogy differed. One teacher rejected most of the SFL metalanguage but enthusiastically adopted joint writing practices from genre-based pedagogy, using her own metalanguage. The other did not adopt joint writing but enthusiastically engaged in explicit teaching of metalanguage and clause-level grammar. While struggles arose during the process of critical SFL praxis with these teachers, both also communicated positive outcomes for student confidence and ability to write for examination, which they attributed to an explicit focus on teaching writing. Their different responses to the project illustrates how profoundly the different readiness of teachers to engage with explicit knowledge about language (KAL) can be affected by different teaching contexts and personal backgrounds. It foregrounds the importance of ‘meeting teachers where they are at’ and of the development of long-term partnerships between teachers and researchers supporting development of KAL over time.

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Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)