Hamstead Hall Academy

Hamstead Hall Academy
Part of the Hamstead Hall Academy Trust Hamstead Hall Sixth Form

  • Pride

  • Persistence

  • Patience

  • Preparation

  • Progress

"Success for All through Hard Work and Harmony"

Professional Learning

Language Professional Learning program (since 2012)

The purpose of the Language Professional Learning program, which has been developed over the past 3 years, is to empower our staff to be able to effectively teach the explicit language demands of their subject.

As stated in the quote below; it is important for us, to denaturalise what has become natural to us as experts in our field to pupils.

The fish doesn’t recognise the water in which it swims…..

What may seem obvious to us, because we are accomplished users of language, is not obvious to many pupils. We, therefore, take what we know for granted and need to step back and denaturalise what has become natural. We can then make the language through which our subject knowledge is communicated visible to pupils and help them to develop higher level subject literacy skills.

- Jeff Zwiers ‘Building Academic Language

Our focus for this academic year is on the engagement with text; written, visual and spoken and how dialogic teaching using a teaching and learning cycle can support the learner.

Dialogic teaching harnesses the power of talk to engage children, stimulate and extend their thinking, and advance their learning and understanding

- Robin Alexander, 'Towards Dialogic Teaching', 2004

‘How Language Works’ is a comprehensive professional development program for educators. Teachers develop a deep understanding about the language of different subjects and are equipped with strategies to integrate this knowledge into their own teaching.

Brief overview of course modules

Each module is 3 hours and is supported by between module readings and activities.



1.  Building understandings of genre and register

Participants focus on genres, their structure and why they are important in the school context.   Introduction to the functional model of language.

2.  Applying understandings of genre and register

Participants consider the relationship between curriculum documents and language outcomes, the steps in the teaching and learning cycle and the role of genre and register in the cycle and in curriculum planning.


3.  Representing experience

Participants explore how language is arranged to achieve its meanings and use the functional model of language to identify processes, participants and circumstances in texts.  Participants also consider the function of active and passive voice and learn to use techniques for moving from active to passive voice.

4.  Focusing on language resources for representing experience

Participants learn to recognise the patterns of participants and circumstances in a range of genres and registers and develop understandings of nominal groups and nominalisation and the role they play in student work. 

5.  Making connections – working with clauses

Participants work with clauses to identify clause boundaries, dependent and independent clauses, non-finite clauses and embedded clauses and phrases.  Participants also analyse the difference between spoken and written language.

6.  Making connections across a text.

Participants learn about what makes texts cohesive and the role of conjunctions in linking and organising texts.

7.  Language for organising meanings – Orientation  and flow

Participants develop an understanding of orientation in a text through theme and rheme and the patterns of orientation in different genres.  Participants also consider the role of nominalisation in macro- and hyper-themes.

8.  The power and the passion – Interacting with others

Participants develop their understanding of the impact of tenor, with a focus on register, and consider the reasons for using particular grammatical resources.

9.  Taking a stance – Expressing attitude and engaging with other views

Participants consider language for expressing feelings and judgments and how language is used in engaging with others.  Participants also consider the resources their students have for expressing their feelings and attitudes.

10.  Macro-scaffolding language and learning

Participants consider how language and learning can be scaffolded within the teaching and learning cycle and how to use frameworks for language development.