School of Education / Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research
Existing work in Anglophone countries has raised concerns regarding teachers’ knowledge about language (KAL); this may well be an issue in other countries also, with notable exceptions such as Finland. In Australia, with the introduction of the new Australian Curriculum, the question of teacher KAL has become crucial. Teachers, both practising and pre-service, generally have some knowledge about language as an object, usually including the text structures of particular school genres and information about sentence structure and word classes. This knowledge may be based on traditional grammar and may not be well applied above the sentence level. Teachers may also have an intuitive knowledge of discourse structures and are beginning to reflect on their own discourse using understandings of dialogic teaching. This paper provides an example of how first-year pre-service teachers (PSTs) were introduced to KAL at both the grammatical and the discourse levels, as part of an introductory unit on spoken language. A range of approaches was used, including a functional view of discourse. The PSTs then applied their KAL by putting it into a context that was meaningful for them: discussing their own practice. The paper gives an illustration of some of the work they produced that demonstrates their emerging understandings.
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