Mary J. Schleppegrell


Mary J. Schleppegrell, School of Education

Mary Schleppegrell's research explores the relationship between language and learning with a focus on students for whom English is a second language. A linguist, she uses systemic functional linguistics to explore the meaning in language in ways that illuminate issues in education. Her research investigates the ways language can be an explicit focus of instruction to provide meaningful support for students across school subjects and levels. 

She is in the final year of a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Education Sciences, "The iterative development of modules to support teachers’ engagement in Exploring Language and Meaning in Text with English language learners," with co-PI Annemarie Palincsar. Using an approach based on functional grammar, they have been developing an approach to preparing teachers to focus students on the language choices an author has made as a means of exploring connections between form and meaning and helping English language learners learn how English works. The approach also supports teachers in being explicit in writing instruction about language choices that enable writing different genres in different disciplinary areas.

Her recent book, Focus on Grammar and Meaning, with Luciana deOliveira, (Oxford University Press, 2015) offers primary and secondary teachers of second language students strategies based in research to support them in learning grammar while also learning school subjects. She has worked with the California History Project since 2000, and will be a plenary speaker at their 25th anniversary conference in southern California in November 2015. Along with history and mathematics, she is also interested more generally in supporting teachers in learning about the challenges of language across content areas. Her books Reading in Secondary Content Areas: A Language-Based Pedagogy (with Zhihui Fang, 2008, University of Michigan Press) and The Language of Schooling: A Functional Linguistics Perspective (2004, Erlbaum) describe these challenges and offer ways of working with students across the curriculum in engaging with the language in ways expected in school subjects.

Schleppegrell received her PhD in linguistics from Georgetown University. She teaches courses on language development, discourse analysis, systemic functional linguistics, linguistics in education, and second-language development.

Schleppegrell teaches courses in the following program(s):
Literacy, Language, and Culture
Joint Program in English and Education
Teaching and Learning


Selected Publications

O’Hallaron, C., Annemarie Palincsar, & Mary J. Schleppegrell. (in press). "Using Systemic Functional Linguistics to support critical language awareness in science reading and writing." Linguistics and Education.
de Oliveira, Luciana, and Schleppegrell, Mary J. (2015). Focus on grammar and meaning. Oxford University Press.
Palincsar, Annemarie and Mary Schleppegrell. (2014). "Focusing on language and meaning while learning with text." TESOL Quarterly, 48(3), 616-623.
Moore, Jason, and Mary J. Schleppegrell. (2014). "Using a functional linguistics metalanguage to support academic language development in the English Language Arts." Linguistics and Education 26, 92-105.
Fang, Z., Schleppegrell, M. J., & Moore, J. (2013). "The linguistic challenges of learning across academic disciplines." In Stone, C.A., Silliman, E.R., Ehren, B.J., & Wallach, G.P. (Eds.). Handbook of Language and Literacy: Development and Disorders (pp. 302-322).
New York: Guilford Press.
Schleppegrell, Mary J. (2013). "The role of metalanguage in supporting academic language development." Language Learning 63(Suppl 1), 153-170.
Schleppegrell, M. (2012). "Linguistic tools for exploring issues of equity." In B. Herbel-Eisenmann, J. Choppin, D. Wagner & D. Pimm (Eds.), Equity in Discourse for Mathematics Education: Theories, Practices, and Policies (pp. 109-124). New York:
Schleppegrell, M. J. (2012). "Systemic Functional Linguistics: Exploring meaning in language." In James Paul Gee and Michael Handford (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis (pp. 21-34). New York: Routledge.
Chang, Peichin, and M.J. Schleppegrell. (2011). "Taking an effective authorial stance in academic writing: Making the linguistic resources explicit for L2 writers in the social sciences." Journal of English for Academic Purposes,10(3), 140-151.
Schleppegrell, M. J. and Catherine L. O'Hallaron. (2011). "Teaching academic language in L2 secondary settings." Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 31, 3-18.
Schleppegrell, M. J. (2010). "Language in mathematics teaching and learning: a research review." In Language and mathematics education: Multiple perspectives and directions for research. (pp. 73-112). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Fang, Zhihui, and Schleppegrell, Mary J. (2010). "Disciplinary literacies across content areas: Supporting secondary reading through functional language analysis." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(7), 587-597.



7/1/2010 - 6/30/2013 The Iterative Development of Modules to Support Teachers' Engagement in Exploring Language and Meaning in Text with English-Language Learners
Granting Agency: U.S. Department of Education/Institute of Education Sciences

4/7/2007 - 4/7/2007 Supporting English learners - reading comprehension
Granting Agency: Michigan Department of Education

Courses & Syllabi

Term Catalogue Course Description Syllabus
Fall 2010 EDUC 706. Seminar: Issues in Research on Literacy EDUC 706. Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics

Fall 2011 EDUC 525. Language and Learning in Home and School Settings EDUC 525. Language & Learning in Home & School Settings


Room 4119

Curriculum Vitae