Macquarie University
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A functional approach to teaching English tenses to speakers of other languages: the case of teaching English to adults in Serbia

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posted on 2022-03-29, 00:55 authored by Dragana Stosic
This thesis investigates how a pedagogy based on systemic-functional linguistics (SFL) can benefit teaching English tenses to adults in Serbia. Using a functional tense description within the SFL-based teaching/learning cycle should benefit language learners because it foregrounds the logical architecture of tense selection in English texts. There is a gap in research, however, exploring possible SFL applications in teaching tenses in English as a second/foreign language. Data for this study were collected through surveys with 24 English teachers of adult learners in Serbia, followed by semi-structured interviews with three survey respondents. The findings indicate that, despite the influence of a form-focused grammar pedagogy on their current practices, the participant-teachers believe in the benefits of a text-based approach to teaching grammar through scaffolding. The study also suggests that learners struggle when tense forms reflect more than one temporal relation, arguably due to the Serbian tense system. A functional pedagogy can provide English teachers with pedagogical tools for a text-based approach to teaching tenses, whereas the recursive SFL-based English tense system can enable learners to observe all time references influencing tense choice. One implication of this study is that a functional approach to teaching English tenses should be endorsed by English teachers in Serbia if provided with teacher training. Another implication is that such a pedagogy should assist in overcoming the difficulties arising from the learner’s first language, which encourages the replication of this study involving different language groups.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Towards a functional approach to describing English tenses -- 3. Towards a functional approach to teaching English tenses to L2 learners -- 4. Empirical study : research methods -- 5. Empirical study : results -- 6. General discussion -- 7. Conclusion -- References -- Appendices.


Empirical thesis. Bibliography: pages 70-75

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of International Studies: Languages and Cultures

Department, Centre or School

Department of International Studies, Languages and Cultures

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Marika Kalyuga


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