Education and Arts

Pauline Jones

University of Wollongong

Learning to teach grammar: Orchestral moves and virtuoso moments

This paper explores the nature of developing teacher expertise with respect to teaching grammar in the context of recent Australian curriculum reform. The issue of teachers' own knowledge about language has been well documented (Hammond & Macken-Horarik,  2001; Jones & Chen, 2012); however the relationship between teachers' linguistic knowledge and their curriculum and pedagogic expertise is less understood.   

The paper reports on recent work to investigate how teachers draw on and extend their expertise to enact the functionally oriented grammar of the new curriculum  (Jones, Chen & Derewianka, 2010, 2012).  In particular, it draws on a case study of primary school teachers as they redesign tasks and routines to offer an engaging and contextualized pedagogy.

Adopting the notion of the multimodal ensemble (Kress, 2010), the paper presents a number of ensembles in order to describe generally the ways in which the teachers orchestrate semiotic resources, and specifically to reveal moments which are sometimes risky and occasionally virtuoso – moments which stretch the teachers' linguistic knowledge.  Such moments are explored via systems of IDEATION and APPRAISAL (Martin & Rose, 2007; Martin & White, 2005) in order to examine how the grammatical content is construed within an interpersonal environment.  Throughout, I consider the usefulness of systemic functional semiotics to understand the complex performativity of teachers' expertise.


Jones, P., Chen, H., & Derewianka, B. (2010).Teachers and grammar: Expanding knowledge and redesigning pedagogy ($10000): Education Faculty  Research Committee , UOW.

Jones, P., Chen, H., & Derewianka, B. (2012). Enacting curriculum: towards a multimodal methodology ($6000). Education Faculty  Research Committee, UOW & Interdisciplinary Education Research Institute.

Jones, P., & Chen, H. (2012). Teachers' Knowledge about Language: Issues of Pedagogy and Expertise Australian Journal of Language and LIteracy, 35(2).

Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London: Routledge.

Martin, J. R., & Rose, D. (2007). Working with discourse: Meaning beyond the clause (2 ed.). London: Continuum.

Martin, J. R., & White, P. R. R. (2005). The language of evaluation: Appraisal in English. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave macmillan.

Hammond, J., & Macken-Horarik, M. (2001). Teachers' voices, teacher' practices: Insider perspectives on literacy education. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, Vol 24 (2), 112-132.