A key aim of this curriculum unit is to support students in developing language resources that are progressing towards the written end of the mode continuum. With its focus on a specific genre and the associated language patterns and structures, the unit draws on a functional model of language (e.g. Rothery, Martin, Christie, Halliday) and on the genre teaching/learning cycle in scaffolding student learning. The genre teaching/learning cycle consists of four main stages: Building the Field, Modelling and Deconstruction, Joint Construction and Independent Construction.
The main focus of the unit is on exploring a range of procedural texts. Procedural texts can be described as a ‘genre family’ in that they share the purpose of giving instructions or directions. Texts within this genre family encompass the following:
This unit focuses on procedure texts, with the main text – the ‘mentor text’ – being a recipe. However, while the activities in this unit focus on procedures, there is scope for the teacher to incorporate other examples of instructional or procedural texts such as protocols and procedural recounts e.g. science experiment reports, giving directions, maintaining your bicycle, rules for cyber safety. Multimodal aspects of procedure texts (e.g. graphics and videos) are also included in the unit.
Rather than discrete ‘lessons’, the unit is organised in a sequence of numbered learning ‘activities’, with each activity having one or more components. This enables the unit to be adaptable to teachers’ contexts and flexible enough to be spaced across a number of lessons, depending on the structure of the school curriculum and the organisation of EAL classes. Links to information referred to in some of the activities (e.g. punctuation games, dictogloss etc.) are provided on the last page of the unit.
Finally, some academic references have been embedded in the middle column of the unit planning template titled Language Focus – Additional EAL Focus. These provide a theoretical and practical rationale for the activities selected. A list of these is also provided at the end of the unit, before the Appendices.
This unit was initially developed for a group of Year 7 students working in a parallel EAL class. Some of the students were from families that sought refuge from war and violence in Sudan. Several were fluent in spoken Arabic, which was the dominant language used at home, but were unable to read and write fluently in Arabic. While most of the parents conversed in Dinka, a few could speak and understand basic English. Cultural factors that influenced the students’ behaviour in class included difficulty adjusting to classroom routines, maintaining eye contact and lack of response when interacting with the teacher.
Student year level/EAL level/s:
Assessments of the students’ capabilities placed them at Level C2.2 on the Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL Reporting Resource reading, speaking and listening, while writing was at Level C1.3. They were, for the most part, confident in using oral conversational English with peers and staff; however, they were reluctant to read aloud from texts and to give oral presentations to the class. Several of the students struggled with pace, maintaining eye contact with their audience and pronunciation.
Learning area/s: Victorian Curriculum English Year 7
MODE: Speaking and Listening
STRAND – Literacy Substrand – Interacting with others
Listening and speaking interactions
MODE: Reading and Viewing
STRAND – Literacy Substrand – Interpreting, analysing, evaluating
Analysing and evaluating
Analyse and explain the ways text structures and language features shape meaning and vary according to audience and purpose.
STRAND – Language Substrand – Text structures and organisation
EAL indicators from the Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL
Speaking and Listening
Maintaining and negotiating spoken communication
Reading and Viewing
Linguistic structures and features
Text and response
Linguistic structures and features
In speaking and listening, the students are permitted to repeat instructions, act out and use gestures to reinforce understanding but are not permitted to add extra details or words in the presentation of the instructions. This challenges the spoken language skills of presenters, as they need to articulate words clearly, use intonation and to speak at a reasonable pace and volume in order to be heard and understood by their audience (Blake Education, 2006).
In terms of reading and viewing, students need to be able to decode and comprehend the instructions quickly to be able to perform them without asking clarifying questions to aid comprehension. This requires a high level of reading skills to be able to decode and comprehend text, pictures/videos as well as execute the instructions simultaneously. According to Hertzberg, EAL students rely heavily on graphophone decoding and, therefore, while they may be able to read the text, they may need repeated reading and more time to comprehend the text (2012). Further, a multimodal text requires comprehension of multiple modes with pictures and/or video as well as text, which is an additional challenge for the students.
In the written mode, the linguistic challenges require the presenter to use precise yet detailed language in order to provide sufficient information to carry out the instructions, which places the assessment further towards the written end of the mode continuum. This means fewer reference items (such as pronouns, articles etc.) and an increase in noun groups, circumstances (such as adverbs and preposition phrases), the use of conditionals and embedded clauses. These grammatical features pose challenges to EAL learners as some understanding of prepositions, clauses and adverbs is required before attempting more complex phrases and embedded clauses. To address these issues, the unit of work will focus explicitly on the use of adverbials and preposition phrases.
The linguistic demands of the text may pose a problem from a cultural perspective with interference from the students’ interlanguage. In the students’ first language of Arabic, adjectives are rarely used, but when they are used they are written in a different order to English. In Arabic, the adjective usually follows the noun in noun groups (Shoebottom, 2015). Also, since adverbs with the ending ’ly’ are rarely used in Arabic, students tend to add the suffix ‘i’ which may pose a problem (Dickins, Hervey & Higgins, 2002). In addition, there are no modal verbs used in Arabic which could also be challenging (Shoebottom, 2015).
In this unit, the teacher needs to take into account collaborative group work, peer support and scaffolding at points of need. In the ‘building the field’ stage of the teaching and learning cycle, the teacher will need to determine the students’ prior knowledge and familiarity with the structure and language of various instructional or procedural texts, including the students’ cultural knowledge of Australian cuisine – in particular, the hamburger. Also, while the activities in this unit tend to focus on writing, listening and speaking, students’ reading comprehension and decoding skills need to be supported in order for them to progress to the next level of the Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.
Main genre focus: Procedure (recipe)
The core procedure text (recipe) displays a series of steps leading to an end product.
The challenge for written language is to write a text using precise, detailed language in order to have a participant perform the instructions. This challenges the students to include details via expanded noun groups, adverbials, preposition phrases and conditionals rather than writing in basic simple sentences.
Overview of the unit:
Complete unit of work:
To read the complete unit on Procedural texts, click below.
Looking for blank templates that you can use for your own unit planning? Click below.