Reflective Writing in Teacher Education in China: Insights from Systemic Functional Linguistics

Joshua M Schulze, Anne C Ittner


This article aims to demonstrate the application of theory to teaching practice by examining how two teacher educators drew upon systemic functional linguistics (SFL) as a pedagogical and analytical tool to inform their teaching of reflective writing to Mandarin-dominant teacher candidates enrolled in an ESOL course within an educator preparation program at a university using English Medium Instruction (EMI) in China. First, the authors describe how they incorporated the SFL appraisal framework into their teaching to bring their multilingual student writers’ attention to the language of evaluation as they prepared to construct reflective language learning autobiographies. Second, the authors demonstrate how SFL-informed text analysis of the appraisal resources used within students’ written reflections deepened their understanding of their students’ reflective writing practices and informed their teaching and course development. The article concludes with suggestions for using the SFL appraisal framework to support the reflective writing of their multilingual teacher candidates.


second language writing, systemic functional linguistics, teacher education

Full Text:



Achugar, M., & Carpenter, B. D. (2018). Critical SFL praxis principles in English language arts education: Engaging pre-service teachers in reflective practice. In Bilingual learners and social equity (pp. 91-108). Springer.

Achugar, M., Schleppegrell, M., & Oteíza, T. (2007). Engaging teachers in language analysis: A functional linguistics approach to reflective literacy. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 6 (2), 8-24.

Bailey, K. (1996). The Language Learner's Autobiography: Examining the "Apprenticeship of Observation.” In Teacher Learning in Language Teaching. Donald A. Freeman and Jack C. Richards (Eds). Cambridge University Press, 1996. 11-29.

Bartley, L. (2018). Putting transitivity to the test: a review of the Sydney and Cardiff models. Functional Linguistics, 5 (4), 1-21.

Cohen-Sayag, E., & Fischl, D. (2012). Reflective writing in pre-service teachers' teaching: What does it promote? Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37 (10), 20-36.

Correa, D. & Echeverri, S. (2017). Using a systemic functional genre-based approach to promote a situated view of academic writing among pre-service ESL teachers. HOW, 24 (1), 44-62.

Dare, B. (2010). Learning about language: the role of metalanguage. Special Issue of NALDIC Quarterly, 18-25.

Derewianka, B, Jones, P (2010) From traditional to grammar to functional grammar: Bridging the divide. Special Issue of NALDIC Quarterly: 6–15.

Dewey, J. (1933). How we think (rev. ed.). Boston: D.C. Heath. de Oliveira, L. C., & Avalos, M. A. (2018). Critical SFL praxis among teacher candidates: Using systemic functional linguistics in K-12 teacher education. In Bilingual learners and social equity (pp. 109-123). Springer.

Eggins, S. (2004). Introduction to systemic functional linguistics. A&C Black.

Farrell, T. S. (2016). Anniversary article: The practices of encouraging TESOL teachers to engage in reflective practice: An appraisal of recent research contributions. Language Teaching Research, 20(2), 223–247.

Feez, S. (1998). Text-Based Syllabus Design. Macquarie University/AMES.

Gebhard, M. (2019). Teaching and researching ELLs’ disciplinary literacies: Systemic functional linguistics in action in the context of US school reform. Routledge.

Gibbons, P. (2014). Scaffolding language, scaffolding learning: teaching English language learners in the mainstream classroom. Heinemann.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1973). Explorations in the function of language. Edward Arnold.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1985). Language, context, and text: Aspects of language as social semiotic. Deakin University Press.

Halliday, M.A.K. & Matthiessen, C. M. (2014). An introduction to functional grammar. Routledge.

Harman, R. (2018). Transforming normative discourses of schooling: Critical systemic functional linguistics praxis. In Bilingual Learners and Social Equity (pp. 1-20). Springer.

Harman, R., & Simmons, A. (2014). Critical systemic functional linguistics and literary narratives in subject English: Promoting language awareness and social action among K-12 students. In L.C. De Oliveira & J. G. Iddings (Eds.), Genre pedagogy across the curriculum: Theory and application in U.S. classrooms and contexts (pp. 75–91). Equinox Publishers.

He, J. & Chiang, S.Y. (2016). Challenges to English Medium Instruction for international students in China. A learners' perspective: English-medium education aims to accommodate international students into Chinese universities, but how well is it working? English Today, 34 (4), 63-67.

Hu, G., & Lei, J. (2014). English-medium instruction in Chinese higher education: A case study. Higher Education, 67(5), 551-567.

Hood, S. (2004). Appraising research: taking a stance in academic writing [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Faculty of Education, University of Technology, Sydney.

Lingyan, Y. (2020). The evolution and future trend of the evaluation policy for elementary education teachers in new China. Teacher Development Research, 4 (2), 17-27.

Lucas, T., & Villegas, A. M. (2013). Preparing linguistically responsive teachers: Laying the foundation in preservice teacher education. Theory into Practice, 52(2), 98-109.

Matthiessen, C. M. (2019). Register in systemic functional linguistics. Register Studies, 1(1), 10-41.

Martin, J.R. & Rose, D. (2005). Working with discourse: meaning beyond the clause. London: Continuum.

Mori, M. (2017). Using the Appraisal framework to analyze source use in essays: a case study of engagement and dialogism in two undergraduate students’ writing. Functional Linguistics, 4(1), 11.

Ngo, T. & Unsworth, L. (2015). Reworking the appraisal framework in ESL research refining attitude resources. Functional Linguistics, 2 (1), 1-24.

O’Hallaron, C. L., Palincsar, A. S., & Schleppegrell, M. J. (2015). Reading science: Using systemic functional linguistics to support critical language awareness. Linguistics and Education, 32, 55–67.

Oteíza, T. (2017). The appraisal framework and discourse analysis. In Tom Bartlett & Gerald O’Grady (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of systemic functional linguistics, (pp. 457-472). Routledge.

Pando, M., & Aguirre-Muñoz, Z. (2019). Engaging English language learners in model-based science instruction. In Teaching the Content Areas to English Language Learners in Secondary Schools (pp. 215-230). Springer.

Potts, D. (2018). Critical praxis, design and reflection literacy: A lesson in multimodality. In Bilingual learners and social equity (pp. 201-223). Springer.

Ramirez, J. A. (2018). Paraphrastic Academic Writing: Entry Point for First Generation Advanced Bilingual College Students. In Bilingual learners and social equity: Critical approaches to systemic functional linguistics. (pp. 179-198). Springer.

Rose, D., & Martin, J. R. (2012). Learning to write, reading to learn: Genre, knowledge and pedagogy in the Sydney School. Equinox.

Ryan, M. (2011). Improving reflective writing in higher education: a social semiotic perspective. Teaching in Higher Education, 16, 99-111.

Schulze, J. (2015). Academic Language, English Language Learners, and Systemic Functional Linguistics: Connecting Theory and Practice in Teacher Education. Catesol Journal, 27, 109-130.

Schulze, J. (2016). Understanding the developing persuasive writing practices of an adolescent emergent bilingual through systemic functional linguistics: A case study. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Research, 15 (10), 163-179.

Schulze, J. & Caceda, C. (2019). ESOL Teacher Preparation in China: Insights from a US Perspective. ORTESOL Journal, 36 (4-16).

Shandomo, H. M. (2010). The role of critical reflection in teacher education. School-University Partnerships, 4(1), 101-113.

Suratno, T. & Iskandar, S. (2010). Teacher reflection in Indonesia: Lessons learnt from a lesson study program. US-China Education Review, 7 (12), 39-48.

White, P. R. (2015). Appraisal theory. The international encyclopedia of language and social interaction, 1-7.

Yang, Y. (2016). Appraisal resources in Chinese students’ English academic writing. Journal of Language Teaching Research, 7 (5), 1002-1013.

Zeichner, K. (1993). Educating teachers for cultural diversity (Special Report). National Center for Research on Teacher Learning.

Zeichner, K., & Liston, D. (1987). Teaching student teachers to reflect. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 23-49.

Zeichner, K. & Liu, Y. (2010). A critical analysis of reflection as a goal for teacher education. In N. Lyons (Ed.), Handbook of reflective inquiry (pp. 67-84). Springer.

Zhan, Y., & Wan, Z. H. (2016). Appreciated but constrained: reflective practice of student teachers in learning communities in a Confucian heritage culture. Teaching in Higher Education, 21 (6), 669-685.

Zhang, Z. (2018). Supporting EFL learners’ reflective practices through systemic functional linguistic praxis: a longitudinal case study. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 18 (2), 495-513.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

IJEFL (Indonesian Journal of EFL and Linguistics); Email:; Web:

Creative Commons License
IJEFL (Indonesian Journal of EFL and Linguistics) by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Indexed and Abstracted BY: