Using Halliday's functional grammar to examine early years worded mathematics texts

Abel, Keiran L. & Exley, Beryl E. (2008) Using Halliday's functional grammar to examine early years worded mathematics texts. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 31(3), pp. 227-241.

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This paper examines the grammatical complexity of six worded mathematics texts. These texts come from a Maths worksheet (Way, 2004) and are typical of those put to early years students to assess their competencies for relating everyday experiences to mathematical operations of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. Functional grammar (Halliday, 1990), in particular analyses of mood type, clause structure and cohesion, is used to analyse the means of representing experience and instruction in these worded maths texts. This level of analysis exposes the grammatical complexities of these tasks. The research then maps these grammatical forms onto the outcomes of the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA, 2005) draft English Syllabus Years 1-10 and the support document, English Syllabus Years 1-10 Elaborations. The purpose of such an undertaking is to raise questions about what grammatical forms young learners might be able to bring from their experiences in subject English to the demands made of them in subject Maths. The findings reveal that worded maths texts contain distinct grammatical forms not considered as outcomes in subject English for these students. Thus this paper makes two contributions to the literature. Firstly it showcases the usefulness of functional grammar as a tool for understanding the grammatical complexity of aspects of subject specific literacies, in this case, worded maths texts. Secondly it makes a strong statement about the need for teachers to be aware of, and respond to, the specific literacy demands of discrete subject areas.

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ID Code: 15461
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: An earlier version of this paper can be accessed via the "Available version" link below.
Additional URLs:
Keywords: early years maths, worded maths problems, functional linguistics, linguistic analysis, written number stories, early years operations
ISSN: 1038-1562
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy (130208)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Australian Literacy Educators' Association
Deposited On: 11 Nov 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 14:25

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