English Teaching: Practice and Critique

Volume 5, Number 1 (May 2006): Focus: Knowledge about language in the English/literacy classroom (Part 2)

Editor: Terry Locke (University of Waikato, New Zealand)

Rationale: As with Part 1 (December, 2005), the aim of Part 2 of this double issue of English Teaching: Practice and Critique was to revisit, historically situate and extend a number of current debates on the broad topic of knowledge about language in the English/literacy classroom. This double issue was prompted by a paper by Dick Hudson and John Walmsley, entitled "The English Patient: English grammar and teaching in the Twentieth Century" which tracks the relationship between linguistics and the teaching of grammar in classrooms in England. A number of contributors have made this paper a reference point for their article.

The issue goes way beyond the perennial issue of grammar-teaching and its effectiveness/ineffectiveness  in relation to literacy development. Contributors were invited to respond to one or more of the following prompts: 

  • What is meant by "knowledge about language"?
  • Whose knowledges are we talking about when we refer to "knowledge about language"?
  • In what ways is "knowledge about grammar" subsumed under the term "knowledge about language"?
  • What relationships exist (as productive or non-productive) between the development of linguistics as an academic domain, and educational policy and practice in respect of the presence of "knowledge about language" in the English/literacy classroom?
  • What (if any) justifications exist for the inclusion of "knowledge about language" in an "intended" curriculum as knowledge worth knowing for itself?
  • How is knowledge about language affected by the technologised nature of its object?
  • Put another way, how does metalanguage need to change under pressure from the increased digitising and graphicisation of texts and text-based practice?
  • Are there any sustainable arguments for a positive relationship between knowledge about language (however understood) and increased effectiveness in some aspect of textual practice (reading/viewing or production)?
  • What is the relationship between metalanguage and metacognition?
  • What pedagogical frameworks or approaches appear to render "knowledge about language" effective or ineffective as a component of literacy teaching and learning?

Article contributors to this issue (see Table of Contents) come from Australia (two), the Netherlands, USA (two) and Scotland. Teacher narratives come from Indonesia and Denmark.

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