Using Halliday's Functional Grammar to Examine Early Years Worded Mathematics Texts

Abel, Keiran L. & Exley, Beryl E. (2007) Using Halliday's Functional Grammar to Examine Early Years Worded Mathematics Texts. In McNamara, Anne, Rickwood, Janet, van Haren, Rita, & Vereoorn, Janette (Eds.) Critical Capital: Teaching & Learning AATE & ALEA National Conference, 8-11 July, 2007, Australian National University, Canberra.


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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 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: 9864
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: The contents of this conference can be freely accessed online via the conference's web page (see hypertext link).
Additional URLs:
Keywords: mathematical literacy, functional grammar, halliday
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > LINGUISTICS (200400) > Linguistic Structures (incl. Grammar Phonology Lexicon Semantics) (200408)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 22 Oct 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2011 05:43

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