The benefits of explicit teaching of language for curriculum learning in the physical education classroom

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

5 Scopus Citations
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  • Gail Forey
  • Lok Ming Eric Cheung


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-109
Journal / PublicationEnglish for Specific Purposes
Online published13 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


Among the many subjects taught at primary, secondary and tertiary institutions physical education (PE) has had limited discussion with respect to the language of PE. As an examination subject in secondary school, physical performance is one key factor leading to success in PE; however, PE disciplinary knowledge is often assessed through written or spoken texts, resulting in students needing to have both the ability to physically perform and the disciplinary literacy required to demonstrate knowledge of the subject. The present paper extends the discussion of content and language integrated learning (CLIL), by providing a theory of language and a pedagogy informed by systemic functional linguistics; and investigating the benefits of the explicit teaching of curriculum language related to PE in order to prepare students to succeed in PE exams. Data including observations and videos of classroom interaction, texts written by students and interviews with teachers and students were collected at Hamstead Hall Academy, Birmingham, UK, where over 50% of students have English as an additional language. The data were analysed to investigate if the explicit teaching of the language of PE had a positive impact on both teachers and students. In focussing specifically on the language of PE, the teachers became more aware of the role of language as meaning making resource, students’ written assignments improved and overall the PE exam results increased dramatically. These findings illustrate the benefit of explicitly teaching discipline specific language for curriculum learning, and highlight the language of PE, which tends to be a marginalised subject in the discussion of ESP.

Research Area(s)

  • Disciplinary literacy, Explicit teaching of language, Language for curriculum learning, Physical education (PE), Systemic-functional linguistics