Seminar 1 2019

Seminar Outline:

TESOL researchers and teachers informed by systemic functional linguistics (SFL) have led the way in revealing potential challenges of reading for curriculum learning at primary and secondary level. These researchers recognise that ‘throwing away’ problematic textbooks is not the answer, unless alternate opportunities are provided for students to develop familiarity with ways of building knowledge through extended texts. Along with strategies designed to engage and motivate students, scaffolding reading of such texts needs to include explicit attention to the text itself, and to the linguistic challenges it presents. This must extend beyond word level ‘technical terms’, which are already the core business of curriculum teachers. In this seminar we identify some particular challenges which occur when these technical terms need to be related to other meanings within and beyond sentences. In doing so we draw on new descriptions by SFL researchers (Hao, 2018) and an accessible classroom ‘bridging metalanguage’ to untangle overlooked complexities relating to ‘the noun group’, ‘nominalisation’ and ‘cause in the clause’, and features of ‘static’ and ‘dynamic’ images for knowledge building. Participants are encouraged to bring a ‘challenging’ primary or secondary textbook or other
multimodal pedagogic resource that is relevant so that we can work together to build accessible and engaging resources for teachers and students.


Dr Sally Humphrey is a senior lecturer in literacy education at the Australian Catholic University. Sally has worked for many years in the field of TESOL, literacy and social semiotics as a teacher educator and educational linguist in school and higher education contexts. Sally has participated in a number of influential school-based Australian research projects, which have drawn on systemic functional linguistics to support primary and secondary learners to develop the literacies needed for participation in academic and civic life.

Sally has co-written three resource books designed to introduce pre-service and practicing teachers to descriptions of language which are most relevant to learning in primary and secondary schools. These are:

Humphrey, S. (2017). Academic Literacies in the Middle Years: A Framework for Enhancing Teacher Knowledge and Student Achievement. UK: Routledge.

Humphrey, S., Droga, L., & Feez, S. (2012). Grammar and meaning.Newtown: PETAA.

Humphrey, S., Love, K., & Droga, L. (2011). Working grammar: An introduction for secondary English teachers. AUS: Pearson Education Australia.

Photo of Dr Sally Humphrey

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