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A Systemic Functional Linguistic Approach to the Analysis of CFL Textbooks

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Gloria Gabbianelli

University of Urbino, Italy



In the view of much functionally oriented language education research, the goal of teaching and learning is for learners to become competent in using the appropriate forms of language for making meaning in particular contexts. Due to its systematic focus on the meaning-making mechanisms of language, systemic functional linguistics (SFL) has been recognized as having useful applications in educational settings. However, SFL-trained teachers need to be able to access teaching materials appropriate for the application of a functional approach in their teaching contexts. This study examines these issues in the context of the teaching of Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL). It analyzes four CFL textbooks for beginners to explore the extent to which the presentation of grammatical knowledge and the types of activities used in the textbooks can raise learners’ awareness of the meaning-making function of language. For this purpose, the linguistic framework of SFL is used to analyze how grammatical instruction and apparatus are presented in these textbooks. The findings from this analysis show that the types of activities in the four textbooks examined are not always sufficiently contextualized to enable students to understand the key relationship between forms and meanings in each case: three out of the four textbooks do not provide sufficient opportunities for students to become aware of the systemic nature of the language and to discover how language users make systematic choices in specific contexts. This study shows the efficacy of the SFL model in textbook analysis: an SFL-based framework can be helpful for teachers in selecting textbooks as well as in providing suggestions for authors to redesign textbooks, by encouraging textbook writers to present language as a meaning-making resource.



Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL), Chinese grammar instruction, foreign language textbooks, systemic functional linguistics (SFL), textbooks analysis



Gloria Gabbianelli(高莉雅)