Credit points


Campus offering

Find out more about study modes.

Unit offerings may be subject to minimum enrolment numbers.

Please select your preferred campus.

  • Term Mode
  • Semester 2Online Scheduled




EDLA628 A Metalanguage for 21st Century Literacies , EDLA691 - A Functional Metalanguage for Contemporary Literacies

Unit rationale, description and aim

At a time of major societal and educational change as a result of an increasingly diverse student cohort and shifting methods of teaching, effective literacy skills across all levels and areas of education are of increasing importance. As recognised by the Australian Curriculum and a growing range of State and Territory Syllabi, students need knowledge about the language they use to communicate at all year levels and across all learning areas. Educational institutions, therefore, require teachers and allied professionals develop specialist knowledge and skills in understanding the English language and how it is used to support effective reading, writing, speaking and listening.

This unit focuses on the meaning-making (semiotic) resources needed to participate effectively in modern literacies. Students will develop their knowledge about language by learning a detailed metalanguage for use in understanding the language used by students and the model texts they learn from. In particular, this unit will examine the meanings, structures and use of language at the word, sentence, phrase and text level and demonstrate how discourse and grammatical resources function differently across contexts. Students will apply these concepts to F-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 language and literacy 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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and development of semiotic resources which construct contemporary literacies, with an emphasis on social semiotic approaches (APST HA 2.1)GC1, GC2, GC7
LO2Show an understanding of the interdependent relationship between context, discourse semantics and grammar, incorporating the notion of context as culture and situation (APST HA 2.1)GC1, GC2, GC7
LO3Develop a metalanguage for talking about key semiotic resources for literacy and learning in schools, as well as written resources (APST HA 2.1)GC1, GC2, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO4Investigate, analyse and synthesise research related to theories and applications of language (APST HA 1.3, 2.1; APST Lead 1.2 )GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO5Reflect critically on policy and curriculum related to language learning (APST HA 1.3; APST Lead 3.6)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO6Apply a knowledge of language into curriculum interpretation and planning for learning (APST HA 2.2, 2.5, 3.2; APST Lead 2.3, 3.5, 3.6, 6.4)GC1, GC2, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12


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

1.3  Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds

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

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

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

2.3 Curriculum, assessment and reporting

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

3.2 Plan, structure and sequence learning programs

Work with colleagues to plan, evaluate and modify learning and teaching programs to create productive learning environments that engage all students.


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

1.2 Understand how students learn

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

2.5 Literacy and numeracy strategies

Monitor and evaluate the implementation of teaching strategies within the school to improve students’ achievement in literacy and numeracy using research-based knowledge and student data.

3.5 Use effective classroom communication

Demonstrate and lead by example inclusive verbal and non-verbal communication using collaborative strategies and contextual knowledge to support students’ understanding, engagement and achievement.

3.6 Evaluate and improve teaching programs

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

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 three compulsory modules and one elective module. In the elective module, students will use the knowledge of language learnt in the core modules to research, interpret, analyse and synthesise policy and practices specific to a selected context. 

Core modules

  • Module 1: Language as a meaning-making resource
  • 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 and 4x levels (whole text, phase, sentence, word/expression)

  • Module 2: A metalanguage for expressing and developing ideas
  • Building a metalanguage for expressing ideas across levels of text (experiential meanings)
  • Building a metalanguage for developing ideas (logical meanings)

  • Module 3: A metalanguage for interacting and organising text.
  • Building a metalanguage for structuring and organising text (textual meanings)
  • Building a metalanguage for language for Interacting (interpersonal meanings)

Elective modules (select one) 

  • Metalanguage in primary school contexts
  • Metalanguage in secondary curriculum contexts
  • Metalanguage in specific learning areas
  • Metalanguage in workplace contexts
  • 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 Learning Management System (LMS) 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 teaching period, comprising directed tasks and self-study. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, video, workshops, and assignments.

Mode of delivery: This unit will be offered in one or more of modes of delivery described below, chosen with the aim of providing flexible delivery of academic content.

  • On Campus: Most learning activities or classes are delivered at a scheduled time, on campus, to enable in-person interactions. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.
  • Intensive: In an intensive mode, students require face-to-face attendance on weekends or any block of time determined by the school. Students will have face-to-face interactions with lecturer(s) to further their achievement of the learning outcomes. This unit is structured with required upfront preparation before workshops. The online learning platforms used in this unit provide multiple forms of preparatory and practice opportunities for you students to prepare and revise. 
  • Multi-mode: Learning activities are delivered through a planned mix of online and in-person classes, which may include full-day sessions and/or placements, to enable interaction. Activities that require attendance will appear in a student’s timetable.
  • Online unscheduled: Learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere. These units are normally delivered fully online and will not appear in a student’s timetable. 
  • Online scheduled: All learning activities are held online, at scheduled times, and will require some attendance to enable online interaction. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

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 offers opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills with metalanguage as it relates to contemporary literacies and involves a gradual transition from more closed exercises to more open learner choice and application.

The first task (50%) is related to the core modules and requires students to demonstrate their competence in metalanguage through a progressively submitted portfolio of analysis exercises that culminates in an analysis of two texts from a student using the metalanguage introduced in the core module and the development of a support plan for their learning. The second task (50%) is related to the chosen elective module where students apply a metalinguistic perspective to interpreting texts relevant to their specific context and develop a plan for curriculum change. In order to pass this unit, students are required to successfully complete both assessment tasks and achieve an overall score of 50% or above.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1

Portfolio (Core Module)

A progressively submitted portfolio of exercises in building metalanguage, including reflection on language in literacy education. The portfolio will culminate in using the metalanguage, along with curriculum or NAPLAN documents, to analyse two texts from a student and develop a plan for supporting their future learning.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

Assessment Task 2

Written Assignment (Elective Module)

Apply a metalinguistic perspective to interpreting texts relevant to a students’ specific context and develop a plan for curriculum change.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5, LO6

Representative texts and references

Derewianka, B., & Jones, P. (2023). Teaching language in context (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Derewianka, B. (2022). A new grammar companion for teachers (3rd ed.). Primary English Teaching’ Association of Australia.

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. Routledge.

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

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

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

Humphrey, S., & Vale, E. (2020). Investigating model texts for learning. Primary English Teaching Association of Australia.

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

Martin, J.R., & Rose, D. (2008) Genre relations: Mapping culture. Equinox.

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