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  1. #11
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Traditional versus Functional Grammar

    What sort of teaching are you doing in Japan?

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Traditional versus Functional Grammar

    You have gone into your laconic one-liners again!
    Tell me something about yourself first.
    John

  3. #13
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Traditional versus Functional Grammar

    As I said, I work on the internet. I teach post-grads and wannabe post-grads EAP mostly.

  4. #14
    gary16 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Traditional versus Functional Grammar

    35 degrees today in adelaide 41 for the next 3 days the first 3 days of school the lord have mercy on our souls. functional grammar is a big push in the esl at our esl school. halliday i studied in a masters and found as dry as dust (and thus may not have remembered him TOO well). most teachers are just feeling their way with participants field tenor mode all the lingo, many are doing intensive after hours courses. i love teaching out of the cambridge handbooks for language teachers no-one else seems to. Traditional grammar there. well this is a pointless post i guess but i'd like to read an informed appraisal of the relative merits of these approaches and how widespread they are, i'd sort of like to discover that what their trying to force me to study and teach isn't as good as what i already teach. Only just started my search. sometimes i think lifes too short and there are too many other interesting things to research but hey work starts tomorrow time to re-focus

  5. #15
    abaka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Traditional versus Functional Grammar

    I don't teach in class, but I've tutored several students whose ESL teachers were playing around with elements of functional grammar. Therefore my impressions of FL are entirely second-hand, but they are in fact practical.

    (1) The students could not easily understand nominalization as such.

    (2) They absorbed better the FL clause structure. However, when I explained subordinate clauses and verbal phrases to them in the most ancient school manner possible (as extended nouns, adverbs, or adjectives) they told me that their in-class FL categories finally clicked.

    (3) FL students spoke in bizarre chains of nouns and verbal forms more often than students whose teachers stuck to a basic SVO(C) model of the English sentence, and then gradually ramified it with the subordinate constructions, verbal forms, etc. of traditional English grammar.

    (4) In my own tutoring, I've found that the single hardest feature of English to get across is the basic active nature of the language: X verbs Y. Once the students absorb that, they generally do very well. My FL-students were so enthralled by noun phrases that the basic English sentence pattern was particularly difficult for them.

    (5) In terms of comprehension, I saw no particular difference. The chief factor was of course the amount of practice in reading and conversation, carefully controlled and patiently corrected.

    I have no idea whether the fault lay with unsuccessful teachers, the curriculum, or what else. But I just can't see FL as helping.

    One last point. Statistically, English may yet be primarily a nominal language (as I understand, the cornerstone of the FL approach). The English style and rhetoric taught to native speakers, however, has always rewarded simple active verbs, and disparaged intricate nominal constructions. I fear that a language described and generated by a perfect and perfectly taught functional grammar may turn out entirely monstrous.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: Traditional versus Functional Grammar

    Hi Akaba,
    Thank you for your comments.
    I don't pretend to be an expert on Systemic Functional Linguistics but became enthused at SFL during a Masters in Education - that I did online. I have only personally communicated with one other person who has used SFL practically with TEFL students - and that was Sally Olsen in Canada. (I wish I could contact those teachers who are playing around with elements of SFL that you mentioned).

    The linguists whom I have had contact with appear to view SFL mostly as an academic discipline and they teach or communicate with other linguists or people studying linguistics. One notable exception - Professor David Rose of Sydney University - he has taken his adaptation of SFL 'Reading to Learn' to the outback of Australia and has had considerable success in teaching children in Aboriginal societies. He sent me his DVD ,and literature on his Aboriginal work and I found a great response from a small group of Japanese children - actually children of some of my students.

    Regarding the cornerstone of SFL - - if there is one -I should think it would be the functioning of the verb in the clause. (The Process in Transivity).
    In one of my Pre-intermediate classes I have had considerable success with students identifying this and it has been very successful to them. (If I could place a scan on this posting I could give you some examples. Is it possible to add a scan?)

    My most successful students are indeed the ones who had a good grounding with the traditional S V C approach.

    Gary 16 - 35 degrees bah! When I lived in Melbourne I used to play tennis with my son in 45 degrees.
    I have been teaching here in Japan for 11 years and have tried all the textbooks known to man and beast. I think you are familiar with these - New New Headway, New Streamline, New Cutting Edge. Actually New Cutting Edge is quite good and is my most recent acquisition. This kind of text is overwhelmingly used in Japan and probably the phonics approach is exclusively used for children. The 'whole of language' approach is not in favour generally here which excommunicates SFL enthusiasts. the level of English in Japanese schools is unbelievably low. I think they rate very near the bottom on the international TOEIC scale - just below Outer Mongolia.

    Regarding Halliday as 'dry as dust' he is bloody difficult to understand and I had to rely on other books such as Bloor and Bloor's Introduction to SFL.

    My two children and their partners live and work in Adelaide - three of them in radio, and I migrate there during the hot Tokyo summer. Two summers ago I worked for six weeks at LM Specialists teaching the OET course. Nice place Adelaide and I like the two golf courses along the river. I am enthralled to know that people are swotting up SFL after hours. Please tell me more.

    Regards to all from Tokyo

    Jack

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