Mary J. Schleppegrell

Professor; SOE Ombudsperson

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. She uses systemic functional linguistics to explore meaning in language in ways that illuminate issues in education, and her research investigates the ways language can be an explicit focus of instruction to provide meaningful support for students across school subjects and levels. Her book, The Language of Schooling: A Functional Linguistics Perspective (2004, Erlbaum), has been influential in shaping the ways researchers and teachers think about language and learning, and has recently been translated into Japanese.

Schleppegrell currently has two research project with collaborator Chauncey Monte-Sano. Funded by the Library of Congress, they are investigating learning and teaching in middle school classrooms where students are reading primary sources and writing arguments in social studies. Her focus is on providing support for English learners and other students who need to develop language proficiency as they engage in disciplinary discourses. They were recently awarded a grant by the James S. McDonnell Foundation to study how teachers learn to engage in inquiry teaching in social studies.

Schleppegrell's most recent co-authored book, The Lifespan Development of Writing (2018; Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English), with Bazerman, Applebee, Berninger, Brandt, Graham, Jeffrey, Matsuda, Murphy, Rowe, and Wilcox, came out of a multi-year collaboration with writing scholars. Her chapter with Frances Christie presents a linguistically-informed description of writing development across the school years. Her 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, and her book Reading in Secondary Content Areas: A Language-Based Pedagogy (with Zhihui Fang, 2008, University of Michigan Press) describes challenges of learning across subjects and suggests approaches to ways of engaging students with language across the curriculum.

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


Teaching the languages of schooling for equity and quality in education

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


Selected Publications

Schleppegrell, Mary & Christie, Frances. (2018). Linguistic features of writing development: a functional perspective. In Bazerman, C., A. Applebee, V. Berninger, D. Brandt, S. Graham, J. Jeffrey, & P. K. Matsuda, S. Murphy, D. Rowe, M. Schleppegrell, K. Wilcox (Eds.) The Lifespan Development of Writing, pp. 111-150. Urbana, IL: NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English).

Schleppegrell, M. J. & Jason Moore. (2018). Linguistic tools for supporting emergent critical language awareness in the elementary school. In R. Harman (Ed.), Bilingual Learners and Social Equity: Critical Approaches to Systemic Functional Linguistics, pp. 23-43. New York: Springer.

Symons, C., Palincsar, A.S., and Schleppegrell, M.J. (2017). Fourth-grade emergent bilinguals’ uses of functional grammar analysis to talk about text. Learning and Instruction 52:102-111. doi:

Schleppegrell, M.J. (2017). Systemic Functional Grammar in the K-12 classroom. In Eli Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning v. 3 (pp. 384-396). New York: Routledge.

O’Hallaron, C. & Schleppegrell, Mary J. (2016) “Voice” in children’s science arguments: Aligning assessment criteria with genre and discipline. Assessing Writing 30:63-73.

Chang, P. & Mary J. Schleppegrell. (2016). Explicit learning of authorial stance-taking by L2 doctoral students. Journal of Writing Research 8:1, 299-322.

Klingelhofer, Rachel R., and Mary Schleppegrell. (2016). Functional grammar analysis in support of dialogic instruction with text: scaffolding purposeful, cumulative dialogue with English learners. Research Papers in Education 31:1, 70-88.

Achugar, M., & Schleppegrell, M. (2016). Reflective literacy and the teaching of history. In W. Bowcher & J. Y. Liang (Eds.), Society in Language, Language in Society: Essays in Honour of Ruqaiya Hasan (pp. 357-378). Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Schleppegrell, Mary J. (2016). Content-based language teaching with functional grammar in the elementary school. Language Teaching, 49, 116-128. doi:10.1017/S0261444814000093.

O'Hallaron, C. L., Palincsar, A., & Schleppegrell, M. J. (2015). Reading science: Using Systemic Functional Linguistics to support critical language awareness. Linguistics and Education, 32, 55-67.

Palincsar, Annemarie and Mary Schleppegrell. (2014). Focusing on language and meaning while learning with text. TESOL Quarterly, 48(3), 616-623.

Schleppegrell, Mary. (2014). Purposeful grammar. For the Learning of Mathematics 34(2), 44-45.



1/1/2018 - ongoing Teachers Learning to Facilitate Communication and Reasoning Through Inquiry With History and Social Science Sources
Granting Agency: James S. McDonnell Foundation

10/1/2016 - 9/30/2018 Using our Nation’s Library to Teach Writing with Primary Sources to All Students
Granting Agency: Library of Congress

7/1/2010 - 9/30/2015 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
Winter 2015 EDUC 525. Language and Learning in Home and School Settings EDUC 525. Language & Learning in Home & School Settings

Fall 2015 EDUC 737. Topics in Educational Studies EDUC 737. Introduction to Discourse Analysis


Room 4119

Curriculum Vitae