Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

At a time of rapid ongoing societal change as a result of globalisation and internationalisation, effective English language skills are of increasing importance. Educational institutions, therefore, require teachers and allied professionals with specialist knowledge and skills in English language teaching.

This second unit in the specialisation, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), focuses on the meaning-making (semiotic) resources needed to participate effectively in 21st century literacies. Students will develop their knowledge of metalanguage, examine the structure of language at the word, sentence and text level and demonstrate how discourse and grammatical resources function differently across contexts. Students will also consider the structures and functions of multimodal texts and explore practical resources that enhance meaning making in written, spoken and multi-modal texts. Students will apply these concepts to P-12 years of schooling in relation to the Australian Curriculum: English as well as to other teaching and learning contexts.

The aim of this unit is to support students in developing the required specialist knowledge, understanding and skills to use metalanguage effectively in English language learning and teaching.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and development of semiotic resources which construct 21st century literacies, with an emphasis on social semiotic approaches (GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 2.1H) 

LO2 - Show an understanding of the interdependent relationship between context, discourse semantics and grammar, incorporating the notion of context as culture and situation. (GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 2.1H) 

LO3 - Develop a meta-language for talking about key semiotic resources for literacy and learning in the 21st century, including multimodal, as well as written resources (GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 2.1H) 

LO4 - Investigate, analyse and systhesise research related to theories and applications of language (GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10; APST 1.2L, 2.1H;)

LO5 - Reflect critically on policy and curriculum related to language learning (GA3, GA4, GA9, GA10; APST 1.3H, 3.6L)

LO6 - Incorporate a knowledge of language into curriculum interpretation and planning for learning (GA4, GA5, GA9; APST 2.2H, 2.3L, 2.5H, 6.4L)

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

1.2      Understand how students learn (Lead)

Lead processes to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching programs using research and workplace knowledge about how students learn

1.3      Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds (Highly Accomplished)

Support colleagues to develop effective teaching strategies that address the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds

2.1      Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area (Highly Accomplished)

Support colleagues using current and comprehensive knowledge of content and teaching strategies to develop and implement engaging learning and teaching programs

2.2      Content selection and organisation (Highly Accomplished)

Exhibit innovative practice in the selection and organisation of content and delivery of learning and teaching programs

2.3      Curriculum, assessment and reporting (Highly Accomplished)

Support colleagues to plan and implement learning and teaching programs using contemporary knowledge and understanding of curriculum, assessment and reporting requirements

2.5      Literacy and numeracy strategies (Highly Accomplished)

Support colleagues to implement effective teaching strategies to improve students’ literacy and numeracy achievement

3.6      Evaluate and improve teaching programs (Lead)

Conduct regular reviews of teaching and learning programs using multiple sources of evidence including: student assessment data, curriculum documents, teaching practices and feedback from parents/carers, students and colleagues

6.4       Apply professional learning and improve student learning (Lead)

Advocate, participate in and lead strategies to support high-quality professional learning opportunities for colleagues that focus on improved student learning


This unit will comprise one compulsory module and one elective module. In the elective module, students will use the knowledge of semiotic resources (including multimodal resources) from the core module to research, interpret, analyse and synthesise policy and practices specific to a selected context. 


1.Core module 

  • Understanding theories of language and developing a metalanguage for use with the Australian Curriculum, English 
  • Genre and register: broad and specific contexts for learning language  
  • Language as a toolkit of semiotic resources for making meaning 
  • The functional organisation of the semiotic toolkit: 4x meta-functions 
  • The organisation of the semiotic toolkit as 4x levels (whole text, phase, sentence, word/expression) 
  • Building a metalanguage for expressing ideas across levels of text 
  • Building a metalanguage for connecting ideas across levels of text 
  • Building a metalanguage for interacting with others across levels of text 
  • Building a metalanguage for creating cohesive texts across levels of text 

2.Elective modules (select one) 

  • The metalanguage in early childhood contexts 
  • The metalanguage in primary school contexts 
  • The metalanguage in secondary curriculum contexts 
  • The metalanguage in workplace contexts 
  • The metalanguage in TESOL contexts 
  • Assessing language learning and planning for progress  
  • Leading the development of a whole-school metalanguage and applications across the curriculum. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in multi-mode and will be supported by a unit LEO (learning environment online) site. Engagement for learning is the key driver in the delivery of this curriculum. The unit will facilitate active participation in pedagogical approaches that demonstrate alignment of teaching, learning and assessment.  

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video, workshops, and assignments etc.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, postgraduate students need to complete and submit two graded assessment tasks. The assessment strategy used allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and skill related to a metalanguage for 21st century literacies.  

The first task (20%), related to the core module, requires students to demonstrate their competence in metalanguage; the second task (30%) is a written assignment analysing texts from a student and developing a support plan. The third task (50%) is related to the chosen elective module where students apply a 4X4 perspective to interpreting texts. 

Assessment Tasks 

The assessment will relate directly to the achievement of the outcomes above. Some flexibility may be exercised in the assessment tasks to align with the needs of the student cohort, for example, students may be working in a classroom, in an administrative role or currently on leave from teaching. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1 

Portfolio (Core Module) 

Weekly exercises in building metalanguage, including reflection on the value of a socio-cultural approach to language in literacy education 


LO1, LO2,  

LO3, LO4 

GA5, GA8, 

GA9, GA10 

Assessment Task 2 

Written Assignment (Core Module) 

Using the metalanguage, along with curriculum or NAPLAN documents, analyse two texts from one student and develop a plan for supporting future progress 


LO1, LO2, 

LO3, LO4, 


GA4, GA5,  

GA8, GA9, 


Assessment Task 3 

Written Assignment (Elective Module) 

Apply a 4 x 4 perspective to interpreting texts in specific contexts and plan for curriculum change 


LO1, LO2,  

LO3, LO5,  


GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Callow, J. (2013). The shape of text to come. Newtown, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA). 

Derewianka, B., & Jones, P. (2016). Teaching language in context (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press. 

Derewianka, B. (2012). Knowledge about language in the Australian Curriculum. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 35(2), 129-141.  

Edwards-Groves, C., & Davidson, C. (2019). Metatalk for a dialogic turn in early years classrooms. International Handbook of Research on Dialogic Education. London: Routledge.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1985). Spoken and written language. Geelong, Vic: Deakin University Press. 

Halliday, M.A.K. (revised by Matthiessen, C.M.I.M.) (2004). An introduction to functional grammar (3rd ed.). London: Arnold/Hodder Education. 

Humphrey, S., Droga, L., & Feez, S. (2012). Grammar and meaning (new ed.). Newton, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA). 

Humphrey, S. (2017). Academic literacies in the middle years: A framework for enhancing teacher knowledge and student achievement. New York, NY: Routledge.

Kalantzis, M., Cope, B., Chan, E. Dalley-Trim, L. (2016). Literacies (2nd ed.). Port Melbourne, Vic: Cambridge University Press.  

Love, K., Macken-Horarik, M. & Horarik, S. (2015). Language knowledge and its application: A snapshot of Australian teachers’ views. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 38(3), 171-182. 

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs