Starting points in teaching grammatics: Children learning about verbs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Where and how to begin to teach knowledge about grammar, or ‘grammatics’, with young learners is still something of an open question. Mandated syllabus documents which introduce verbs (for example) in the early years of school seem to be at odds with research which apparently shows that is it difficult to teach the abstract concepts of traditional school grammar to children whose thinking is still in what Piaget described as the stage of ‘concrete operations’. Working from a theoretical basis which incorporates a Vygotskian approach to pedagogy with a functional, semantically-oriented (Hallidayan) grammar, this paper explores the ontogenesis of grammatics in two case study classes. The Year 2 children in the case studies were beginners in learning grammatics, and in both classes the children were taught first about ‘action verbs’ (or material Processes). However the classes differed considerably in terms of the design of the initial grammatics lessons they experienced, and ultimately in terms of the kinds of knowledge thereby made available for the children’s use. This paper compares and contrasts the ontogenesis of grammatics in these two case study classes, using analysis of transcribed classroom talk to characterise the nature of the teaching/learning experiences. The analysis of classroom discourse includes examining how language operates to represent grammatical knowledge to the children and thereby apprentices them into particular ways of knowing about grammatics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBridging the gap between ideas and doing research
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 4th Annual Postgraduate Research Conference
EditorsT. Hays
Place of PublicationArmidale, Australia
PublisherUniversity of New England
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9781921208249
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventAnnual Postgraduate Research Conference (4th : 2009) - Armidale, NSW
Duration: 13 Jul 200917 Jul 2009


ConferenceAnnual Postgraduate Research Conference (4th : 2009)
CityArmidale, NSW


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