Understanding text as social practice: An exploration of the potential of systemic functional grammar to facilitate students' interpretation of media texts.

Jenny Clarence-Fincham

Abstract


It has frequently been claimed that Halliday's Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) is apowerful linguistic tool which facilitates analytical and interpretative skills and provides aflexible, yet structured set of analytical tools with which to interpret texts. With this claim asa backdrop, this article asks whether SFG is, in fact an appropriate analytical approach forunder-graduate students and whether it can facilitate their ability to analyse texts. Its contextis a second level course, Analysing Media Texts, offered at Natal University. Broadly framedby critical discourse analysis, it traces the development of a thirteen week module and,using student analyses for illustrative purposes, identifies pedagogical challenges anddifficulties that need to be confronted before any strong claims can be made. It is concludedthat, on the evidence of students' responses to texts analysed during this course, it is not yetpossible to make strong claims about the benefits of SFG. There is enough positiveevidence, however, to pursue the possibility that with innovative curriculum development andthe careful scaffolding and integration of concepts, SFG will be clearly shown to have anextremely important role to play.

Daar is dikwels beweer dat Halliday se Sistemies-Funksionele Grammatika (SFG) 'n kragtige linguistiese middel is wat analitiese en interpreterende vaardighede bevorder en 'n plooibare, dog gestruktureere stel analitiese gereedskap verskaf waarmee tekste gei"nterpreteer kan word. Met die bewering as agtergrond vra hierdie artikel of SFG inderdaad 'n toepas like analitiese benadering vir voorgraadse studente is en of dit hulle vermoe om tekste te ontleed, bevorder. Die konteks is 'n tweedejaarskursus, Analysing Media Texts, wat aan die Universiteit van Natal aangebied word. Breedweg omraam deur kritiese diskoersanalise, speur die artikel die ontwikkeling van 'n module van dertien weke na, met gebruik van studenteontledings ter illustrasie en identifiseer pedagogiese uitdagings en probleme wat aangespreek moet word voordat enige sterk aansprake gemaak kan word. Daar word tot die slotsom gekom, op grond van die studente se reaksies op tekste wat gedurende hierdie kursus ontleed is, dat dit nog nie moontlik is om sterk aansprake oor die voordele van SFG te maak nie. Daar is egter genoeg positiewe bewyse om die moontlikheid op te volg dat met vernuwende kurrikulumontwikkeling en die versigtige ondersteuning en integrering van konsepte duidelik bewys sal kan word dat SFG 'n uiters belangrike rol te speel het.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5785/16-2-137

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ISSN 2224-0012 (online); ISSN 0259-2312 (print)

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