Deakin University

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Demystifying ‘Grammar’: Towards a more language-aware teaching workforce

posted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by Rod NeilsenRod Neilsen
This chapter discusses a project that sought to offer directions towards raising awareness of language in initial teacher education (ITE). Multicultural nations such as Australia require teachers in all educational sectors to demonstrate pedagogy that responds to linguistic and cultural difference, in the interests of equity and social cohesion (Hasan 2011; Kubota 2004). However, policy changes over recent decades have led to confusion and inconsistency in dealing with language in education. Language awareness (LA) is paid less attention outside language specialisations, and a problematising factor may be that different discipline areas all have varying perceptions of language and LA.

The project reviewed language-related components in education courses in Australia, and analysed interview data from pre-service teachers (PSTs) and teacher educators regarding their views and experiences of language in education, using a framework of language as social practice. The analyses revealed complex and conflicting issues for PSTs. Recommendations include the introduction of core language-specific modules in all teacher education courses, modules in which knowledge about language (KAL) is linked to cultural knowledge in innovative ways, and in which mainstream and English as an additional language (EAL) perspectives are included and contrasted. Such course units could also be linked more comprehensively to teaching practicums, as in some European models.

This chapter discusses a project that sought to offer directions towards raising awareness of language in initial teacher education (ITE). It focuses on teacher language awareness (TLA), which refers to teachers' knowledge of the underlying systems of the language that allows for effective pedagogy. TLA encompasses morphological awareness, phonological awareness, awareness of the structural patterns and pragmatic awareness. The chapter summarizes teacher educators' perceptions of policy issues affecting both English as an additional language (EAL) and languages education. The potential for empowerment is a key reason that more detailed attention should be paid to language awareness in teacher education and also in professional learning for in-service teachers. The goal for ITE would be to instil the awareness of language as a tool for mediation for EAL and mainstream students. Sociocultural theory views language as a cultural tool to carry out goal-directed activities; displays of a learner's linguistic knowledge as influenced by traditional grammar do not evidence language development.


Title of book

Rethinking Languages Education

Chapter number



205 - 223



Place of publication

Abingdon, Eng.







Publication classification

B1 Book chapter


Ruth Arber, Michiko Weinmann, Jill Blackmore