Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

A technical language about language itself - a metalanguage - is required for the systematic sharing, debating, and refining of ideas about how oral and written language is supported, including in its multimodal forms.

In this unit, students will develop a shared language to support informed understandings of the conduct of literacies education. The metalanguage of this unit is that which informs the Australian Curriculum for English (Systemic Functional Linguistics), providing as it does a rich basis for inquiry into contemporary literacy teaching, curriculum and assessment practices. In terms of written language, the unit will provide an in-depth study of the structure of language at word, sentence and text level, the relationships between these levels and the relationship between context, discourse and grammar. In terms of multimodal language, the unit will provide research-based frameworks for describing and analysing texts in visual, audio and gestural form, in face to face and electronic modes. Assessment tasks will allow the metalanguage to be applied to specific teaching and learning situations, including early childhood, primary, secondary contexts, and teaching English to speakers of other languages.

This unit aims to assist students to further build a metalanguage for describing the relationship between verbiage and image in multimodal texts in print-based and electronic forms, and for describing other inter-modal relationships. This metalanguage will be applied to the teaching of language and literacy across the years of schooling (P-12) in the context of the Australian Curriculum: English

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 meaning-making resources which construct contemporary literacies, with an emphasis on social semiotic approaches (GA5; APST (HA) 2.1)

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; APST (HA) 2.1)

LO3 - develop a metalanguage for talking about key semiotic resources for literacy and learning in the 21st century, including multimodal, as well as print resources (GA5, GA8; APST (HA) 2.1)

LO4 - investigate, analyse and synthesise research related to theories and applications of language in education (GA8; APST (HA) 1.2, 2.1)

LO5 - effectively communicate knowledge of language and its role in literacy development in professional contexts (GA9; GA10; APST (HA) 3.7, 6.1, 6.3, (Lead) 3.6, 6.2, 6.4)

LO6 - apply a knowledge of language to assess the needs and progress of all learners and to provide effective feedback (GA3, GA6; APST (HA) 1.2, 1.3, 5.1, 5.4, (Lead) 5.2)

LO7 - incorporate a knowledge of language into curriculum interpretation and planning for learning (GA4, GA5; APST (HA)1.2, 2.2, 2.5, (Lead) 2.3, 6.4).

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 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

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 (Highly Accomplished)

Expand understanding of how students learn using research and workplace knowledge

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 (Lead)

Lead colleagues to develop learning and teaching programs using comprehensive knowledge 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.

3.7  Engage parents/carers in the educative process (Highly Accomplished)

Work with colleagues to provide appropriate and contextually relevant opportunities for parents/carers to be involved in their children’s learning.

5.1  Assess student learning (Highly Accomplished)

Develop and apply a comprehensive range of assessment strategies to diagnose learning needs, comply with curriculum requirements and support colleagues to evaluate the effectiveness of their approaches to assessment.

5.2  Provide feedback to students on their learning (Lead)

Model exemplary practice and initiate programs to support colleagues in applying a range of timely, effective and appropriate feedback strategies.

5.4  Interpret student data (Highly Accomplished)

Work with colleagues to use data from internal and external student assessments for evaluating learning and teaching, identifying interventions and modifying teaching practice.

6.1  Identify and plan professional learning needs (Highly Accomplished)

Analyse the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers to plan personal professional development goals, support colleagues to identify and achieve personal development goals and pre-service teachers to improve classroom practice.

6.2  Engage in professional learning and improve practice (Lead)

Initiate collaborative relationships to expand professional learning opportunities, engage in research, and provide quality opportunities and placements for pre-service teachers.

6.3  Engage with colleagues and improve practice (Highly Accomplished)

Initiate and engage in professional discussions with colleagues in a range of forums to evaluate practice directed at improving professional knowledge and practice, and the educational outcomes of students.

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 8 modules. In each module students will apply their knowledge of semiotic resources to texts used across the years of schooling, and in early childhood, primary, secondary curriculum, TESOL and workplace contexts. Opportunities for a focused examination of one specialised context will be available in the final module.

Module 1: Genre and register: broad and specific contexts for learning language

Module 2: A metalanguage for expressing ideas across levels of text

Module 3: A metalanguage for connecting ideas across levels of text

Module 4: A metalanguage for interacting with others across levels of text

Module 5: A metalanguage for creating cohesive texts across levels of text

Module 6: A metalanguage for creating cohesive texts across levels of text

Module 7: A metalanguage for exploring multimodal texts

  • Experiential, interpersonal and textual systems for examining visual texts
  • Systems for exploring image-verbiage relations in multimodal texts

Module 8: Applying metalinguistic knowledge in assessment and leadership contexts

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

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Participants will be involved in a variety of teaching-learning strategies to progress and demonstrate their understandings in this unit.

  • Learning materials will be provided online via a digital core of resources (including modules, readings, suggested websites and other electronic resources) to support learning and assessment.
  • Online tools are designed to build a community of learners and support reflective practice (e.g. forum, chat, podcasts, WIKI). Students will be required to participate regularly in online forums to share understandings and insights, resolve any learning difficulties, and check their progress.
  • Online resources are used to support the critical analysis and application of learning integrated within 21st Century literacies.
  • May include up to two one-day intensives: beginning of semester; middle of semester for cohorts.

This is a 20-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 300 hours in total with a normal expectation of 48 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 48 hours. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours then become private study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

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.

The total assessment will be equivalent to 11,000 words.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1.

Portfolio of tasks from Modules 2-7 for building metalanguage, including reflection on the value of a social semiotic approach to language in literacy education


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 2.

Analysis of student texts and development of metalinguistically informed plan for supporting students in light of national curriculum and assessment regimes.


LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA9

Assessment Task 3.

A theorized application of metalanguage in leading assessing and planning for progress in either an early childhood, primary, secondary curriculum, TESOL or workplace context.


LO3, LO4, LO6, LO7

GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Required Texts

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

Callow, J. (2014). The shape of text to come; How image and text work together (new ed) Newton, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

Representative Texts

Butt, D., Fahey, R., Feez, S., Spinks, S., & Yallop, C. (2012). Using functional grammar: An explorer’s Guide (3rd ed.). South Yarra, Vic: Palgrave Macmillan.

Humphrey, S., Love, K., & Droga, L. (2011). Working grammar: An introduction for secondary English teachers. Port Melbourne, Vic: Pearson.

Derewianka, B. (2011). A new grammar companion for teachers (2nd ed.). Sydney: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

Halliday, M.A.K., & Matthiessen, C.M.I.M. (2014). Halliday’s introduction to functional grammar (4th ed.). London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Halliday, M.A.K., & Matthiessen, C.M.I.M. (2006). Construing experience through meaning: A language-based approach to cognition. London: Continuum.

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

Unsworth, L. (Ed.). (2008). New literacies and the English curriculum: Multimodal perspectives. London; New York: Continuum.

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