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Critical SFL praxis through combined teacher education and after-school program
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Systemic functional linguistics (SFL) has been used as a teaching and analytic tool in supporting advanced proficiency in first and second language literacy over several decades. However, less research has conceptualized how Critical Systemic Functional Linguistics (CSFL) Praxis develops successful scaffolding of students’ multiliteracies along with incorporation and validation of their cultural and semiotic repertoires (Harman & Khote, 2017). This paper discusses how SFL researchers have conceptualized CSFL in U.S. teacher education (e.g., Achugar & Carpenter, 2018). It also investigates a combined after-school youth and teacher education program (CASTE) in the southeastern United States that was developed to position bilingual middle school students as civic agents of their learning while simultaneously training pre-service teachers in developing a CSFL praxis.

Minoritized youth often thrive in spaces that privilege the arts and collaborative research related to local civic issues (Paris & Alim, 2014). In addition, pre-service teachers develop a heightened understanding of the social and institutional issues that face their students when they participate in youth participatory programs (Abu El-Haj & Rubin, 2009). Our guiding questions about the CSFL-informed CASTE program are:

  • How did the range of multi semiotic resources support or not adolescent youth in co-constructing new understandings of community issues?
  • What types of reflections and interactions did the CSFL praxis generate among pre-service teachers?

For data collection and analysis, we selected multimodal artifacts (mappings, brick buildings, and 3D models), dialogic interactions, legislative theatre performance, and reflective logs where participants co-constructed new knowledge. To explore in depth this meaning-making and the CSFL pedagogical design, we conducted a SFL-multimodal discourse analysis of data (Bezemer & Jewitt, 2010). This integrated analysis illuminated the ways that community members appropriated (and did not) Spanish, English, dialects, and physical and visual resources to make meaning across modes.


This paper illustrates key tenets of Critical SFL Praxis (CSFL), which fosters multi semiotic designing, register switching, and multilingual resourcing among students. After providing an overview of its use in U.S. teacher education, we illustrate our approach through findings from a combined after-school youth and teacher education program.

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