Systemic Functional Linguistics and the Development of Spoken Chinese Textbooks


  • Yanning Yang East China Normal University
  • Xinming Zhang East China Normal University



Systemic Functional Linguistics, Spoken Chinese, Textbook


More than ten thousand spoken Chinese textbooks have been published in the past three decades because of the rise of China and the increasing number of Chinese learners all over the world. None of these textbooks was developed by making reference to the theories of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) both in terms of overall design and the selection of teaching materials. Therefore, this article explores the possibility of developing spoken Chinese textbooks on the basis of SFL theories. There exist many studies in the field of systemic-functional approaches to Chinese, which provide a rich foundation for the analysis of spoken Chinese. Depending on the findings of previous research, the chapter applies the theories of SFL to the development of the spoken Chinese textbook. The chapter first identifies three inadequacies of current Chinese textbooks in terms of grammatical knowledge presentation, the organization of units, and the contextual structure of conversation passages. In particular, three textbooks published respectively in China, Singapore, and the US were selected for illustration. The article then develops a functional framework for the presentation of Chinese grammatical knowledge based on experiential, interpersonal, and textual functions. Moreover, it demonstrates that the arrangement of various units and the structure of sample conversations in Chinese textbooks can be improved using register theory and genre theory respectively. The research contributes to the growing body of research on the teaching of spoken Chinese and the development of effective Chinese textbooks.


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How to Cite

Yang, Y., & Zhang, X. (2022). Systemic Functional Linguistics and the Development of Spoken Chinese Textbooks. Researching and Teaching Chinese As a Foreign Language, 3(2), 163–194.