Claire Acevedo

Scaffolding curriculum learning: a pedagogy for teaching knowledge about language (KAL)

Claire Acevedo


Open University

This presentation will provide a glimpse of how a pedagogic approach based on Systemic Functional Linguistics puts into action Halliday’s (1975) tripartite approach of learning language, learning through language and learning about language. The pedagogy, known as Reading to Learn (Rose, 2016; Rose & Martin, 2012) focuses on texts-in-context from any curriculum area, at any stage of schooling, and enables teachers to use the functional model of language to guide students to appropriate knowledge about language (KAL) from reading to use in written texts in supported and independent cycles of learning. KAL is built up by focusing on language patterns in texts as teachers guide students to focus on how purpose predicts patterns at the level of the whole text, the paragraph, the sentence, the word group word and the syllable to build a shared pedagogic metalanguage in the classroom. This “scaffolding” approach (Bruner, 1986 after Vygotsky, 1978) to learning KAL has its foundation in the work of Halliday (1975, 1993) and Painter (1986) on the intuitive guidance given to children by caregivers in the home as they experience language in context. Teachers can experience this process as a contrast to more “traditional” methods of teaching of grammar – formal or functional – that focus on learning features in systems and then practicing them in exercises and whole texts. So, whether teachers initially encounter this approach with enthusiasm or skepticism, the research undertaken on Reading to Learn for more than a decade (Culican, 2005; Acevedo & Rose, 2007; Acevedo, 2010; Coffin, Acevedo & Lövstedt, 2013; Whittaker & Acevedo, 2016) has found that it is paramount for the professional learning process to provide adequate opportunities for scaffolded support for the teacher learners to experience success.



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