March 2009
Volume 12, Number 4

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Periodicity and Its Use in Language Teaching

Yupaporn Piriyasilpa
Rajamangala University of Technology Isan
Khon Kaen Campus, Thailand


Writing in English is often a problem for EFL learners in part because students may translate literally from their L1, and also because they may organise their writing by focusing on the grammatical structure at the level of clause or sentence. However, many studies argue that language is meaningful at a unit larger than a clause or sentence (e.g., Halliday, 1994; Ravelli, 2005; Martin & Rose, 2003). To write successfully, students need to be trained to take broader perspectives and learn how to organise the text as a whole. Given that text unity can be created through hierarchies of waves of information ("periodicity"--see Martin & Rose, 2003), this article argues that discourse organisation and grammatical structure are systematically related, and that it is useful for the language teacher to consider both levels when investigating students' use of language, and teaching language in the classroom. Using systemic functional linguistics (SFL), I discuss the relationship of discourse and grammar and examine the implications for the language classroom.

Keywords: EFL, ESL, writing, composition, grammar

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