Recognizing and realizing ‘what counts’ in examination English
Perspectives from systemic functional linguistics and code theory
This paper interrogates examination English in Australia from the point of view of two analytical frameworks: Bernstein’s code theory and systemic functional linguistics. Linguistically it explores the semantic features of six responses to an open question about an unseen narrative in Year 10 examinations. Two responses at three achievement levels are described in terms of ideational, interpersonal and textual meanings and the overall orientation to narrative interpretation in each grade is related to a particular type of reading — tactical, (D or E grade), mimetic (C grade) and symbolic (A- grade). Capturing students’ orientations to meaning through text analysis is one aspect of the challenge. The other is explaining how some students appear to ‘recognize’ and ‘realize’ what the ‘open question’ requires of them in this context while others do not. The second half of the paper applies Bernstein’s code theory, particularly his notion of ‘recognition’ and ‘realization rules’ to the readings students make of the interpretive context. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the potential of this dual analysis (textual and contextual) for making success in school English both more visible for students currently disadvantaged by examination English and more tractable rhetorically in their production of successful responses.
Published online: 13 April 2006
Cited by 8 other publications
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