2 What is Academic Language? the language used in the classroom and workplacethe language of textthe language assessmentsthe language of academic successthe language of power
3 Why is academic language so important? Students who master academic language are more likely to:be successful in academic and professional settingsStudents who do not learn academic language may:struggle academicallybe at a higher risk of dropping out of school
4 Recognizing Social vs. Academic Language Social (Informal) Language-repetition of wordssentences start with “and” and “but”use of slang: “guy,” “cool,” and “awesome”Academic Languagevariety of words, more sophisticated vocabularysentences start with transitionwords, such as “however,” “moreover,” and “in addition”No slang
5 Language Features/Characteristics Informal EnglishUses hedges like kind of, sort ofUses IUses simple connectorsUses slang and everyday wordsAcademic EnglishDoes not use these hedgesAvoids using IUses sophisticated transition wordsUses academic words
6 Academic language in oral expression Academic language is also a part of speakingMastering oral academic language will allow students to participate in:academic discussionsdebatespresentations in front of their peers
7 Using Academic Language in a student’s native language As with reading skills, if students have acquired academic language in their first language, they will be able to acquire academic language much more quickly in their second language
8 At what age should Academic Language instruction begin? Preschool through 3rd gradeStudents need to learn age-appropriate vocabulary and language that will give them a strong foundation for academic language in the future4th grade through 8th gradeInstruction should transition in order to teach students more sophisticated academic language skills, including vocabulary and grammatical structures
9 What does age-appropriate instruction look like for young children?Young children are good language learners, and are eager to learn new words and participate in conversationTeachers of young students can build a foundation for future academic language skills
10 Instruction for young children Example: Show and TellWhen organizing a Show and Tell session, teach young children the phrase: “I’m going to share an experience I had.”From this phrase, children learn two new words:“share” – rather than “tell” or “talk about”“experience”This exercise would be more appropriate than literary analysis, which is appropriate for older students
11 Linguistic Concepts and Academic Language Academic language includes many areas of language such as:phonology and spellingExamples: Pronunciation stress shiftsAnthropology v. anthropologicalMorphology v. morphologicalmanipulate v. manipulationAlthough these words are closely related and look very similar,they have spelling and pronunciation differences that may beconfusing to English language learners
12 Linguistic concepts and Academic Language Academic language also includes:VocabularyPoints to remember:Vocabulary knowledge plays an important role in a student’s ability to understand the language used in academic assessmentsOngoing, systematic instruction is needed to help students expand their academic vocabularyStudents need to know how to use a word as well as its definition
13 Linguistic Concepts and Academic Language Example: Teaching vocabularyanthropologyTechnique:Repeat word 3 timesShow student a sentence using the target word from their textbookTalk about how it is usedMake up new sentences using the wordHave students practice using the word with partnersRemember that some students need more practice than others to use language accurately
14 Choosing what to teach in Academic Language instruction Teachers should teach language that will help students access the text or content:When teaching reading comprehension, teachers should identify language that students will have difficulty understanding and will undermine student’s ability to comprehend textThis language may include:an academic vocabulary word (such as “stimulate”)a preposition (“between”)an adverb (“hardly”)a conjunction (“and”)a grammatical structure (“either…or”)
15 Academic Language and Word Usage Explicit, specific instruction of word use is necessary for English Language Learners (ELLs)Example: Word Form and UseTeach English Language Learners (ELLs) the difference between “stimulate” and “stimulation,” and how the different forms are usedWhen teaching native speakers, a definition for a new word is often sufficient
16 The definition alone is not sufficient for ELLs. ELLs need to:understand text and definitionsuse the word correctlyproduce accurate language with the wordunderstand the definitions of related wordsdiscuss the text using target words correctly
17 Activity: Beyond Definitions One way to teach word usage is by usinga word bank:Give students a word bank. Discuss the words in the bank and how they are used in the text. Talk about how you would use the wordsProvide students with the definitions and model sentences for all of the wordsIn pairs, have students discuss usage of the words, and how the words are being used in the model sentences.
18 Close ReadingUnderstanding a work that is challenging requires a close reading—one in which we make decisions about what the text means as we read it, keep track of the author’s ideas and points, and connect these new ideas with what we already know. Marking up the text while we read facilitates this process!
19 What does close reading accomplish? Close reading allows students to examine and dissect other features of the text such as:pronominal reference (use of pronouns)synonymsword familiesTalking about the text allows students to incorporate the author’s language into their speech
20 Close reading gives students a chance Read a short passage aloud to students so they hear the melody of the languageExplain the passage to studentsAsk students to read the passage, focusing on a few specific features of academic language, such as pronounsHave students underline all pronouns and then circle the nouns to which they refer.Close reading gives students a chanceto “slow down”.
21 Fixed expressions in Academic Language Fixed expressions (also called collocations) are another important area of academic language, such as:peanut butter and jelly (not jelly and peanut butter)salt and pepper (not pepper and salt)Mr. and Mrs. (not Mrs. and Mr.)Using these kinds of expressions correctly is an important step in learning a second language wellCollocations serve as a “marker” of being able to speak like a native speaker
22 To get students using academic language, try summarization: Read a short passage aloud to studentsHave students read the short passage to themselves and then summarize verbally to a friendGive students the opportunity to repeat the exercise with several partnersThrough this exercise, students begin to acquire the author’s language, and will get more and more fluent with the language each round.
23 Tips: Keep the material cognitively and linguistically appropriate Remember that some features of language can be taught explicitly to young studentsExample: Academic language for younger students“Two plus two equals (with an ‘s’) four.”Talk about the ‘z’ sound of a bumble bee, and get students moving around
24 Tips for teaching young children Use:songschantsTotal Physical Response strategieslanguage games and repetitionchoral repetitiondirect instruction
25 Does academic language need its own block of time? Grades K through 3:Academic language needs separate instruction, but it also needs to support the core curriculumGrades 4 and up:Academic language needs more explicit instruction. Daily intensive instruction should include vocabulary, content, writing, and reading comprehension instruction, as well as direct scaffolding of oral language
26 How much time should teachers spend on academic language instruction? For younger students, the time variesIf students have big gaps in their basic knowledge, they will need more time each dayIf students don’t have instructional gaps in their language skills, 45 minutes a day is sufficient
27 Tips for Academic Language and Writing Every time you give a writing assignment, give students samples to follow so they know what is expected. Multiple samples are betterExample: Giving students writing tools“In this essay, I expect a thesis statement. This is where it goes, and this is what it does. Here is an example.”Give students supports, such as:vocabularygrammatical structurestips for organizing essays
28 Academic writing in the content areas Content area teachers can also teach writing explicitlyExamples:lab reports in science classpersuasive essays in social studies classword problems in math classOne strategy is to:provide students with examples of academic writing used in that content areagive students a chance to practice with content-based writing assignmentsoffer instructional support and feedback
29 It’s important that academic language instruction include feedback for both oral and written expression.Uncorrected errors- A student who uses “first of all” as a single word (“firstable”) will not learn that it is an expression of three words if she is never corrected.The objective of constructive feedback is not punishment or criticism. Instead, it allows students to learn from their mistakes.
30 Using a school-wide feedback system It’s helpful if the whole school uses the same system of proofreading and editingAn editing system may include:underlining or highlighting wordswriting in the marginusing proofreading symbols
31 Using a school-wide feedback system Advantages of using a school-wide system include:Students don’t have to learn new symbols as they go from one grade and teacher to the nextStudents know exactly what kind of feedback their teachers are going to give themThey know when the teacher is going to give them this feedback. They don’t consider it punitive because they expect it
32 Curriculum and Content Objectives When learning new content, ELLs also need to learn the lesson’s language objectives in order to understand the contentEvery time a teacher chooses a new reading text to help the students acquire the content standards, students will be exposed to new language objectives in addition to new contentWhen students receive reading, writing, or oral assignments, they will need to learn different language objectives based on the kind of assignment and what it requires
33 Who is responsible for teaching academic language? In elementary schools, the primary instructor has the responsibility for laying the foundation of academic language instruction by teaching a strong language proficiency in:phonologyspellinggrammarvocabularyTeachers in elementary schools can also work closely with ESL instructors and reading specialists in order to support language instruction
34 What is the role of the content teachers? The content teacher’s responsibilities do include:teaching reading comprehension by using graphic organizers and teaching note-taking skillsscaffolding discussions in content-area classes by teaching related academic vocabulary and using the textteaching any kind of writing associated with the content areaExample: Teaching language in content classesA chemistry teacher might teach students the language used in a lab report or to describe a chemistry experiment.
35 Vocabulary in content instruction Example: “photosynthesis”Instruction of this content word will be more effective in a science context than in an ESL classStudents will be able to develop a more thorough understanding of target vocabulary in a content classroom
36 Example of a First Grade Academic Vocabulary Chart
37 Example of Second Grade Academic Vocabulary Chart
38 Long-term ELLs and academic language Points to remember:Long-term ELLs, or students who have been in the United States for a longer period of time, are the largest-growing student population that we have in the U.S.Students need intensive instruction, as well as opportunities to practice with ongoing feedback, so that their language skills improveThese students will acquire the language of their peers and may have very proficient social language, but they need academic language so that they can succeed academically and fulfill their potential
39 ELL teachers can help long-term ELLs develop their language skills by using: dictation exercisesoral sentence completion activitieswritten cloze passagessummarization and retelling of passagesfrequent writing practice with intensive feedback
40 Independent use of Academic Language Points to remember:As students get older, teacher support needs to pull back so that students learn how to use academic language independentlyTeachers need to plan explicitly to familiarize students with a lot of effective learning strategies that they will be able to use on their own
41 Independent use of Academic Language Students need to learn skills that will allow them to:self-editcontinue independent language development in the mainstream classroomrecognize strengths and weaknesses, such as subject/verb agreement or word forms and related parts of speech
42 Myth: It takes students a certain number of years (i. e Myth: It takes students a certain number of years (i.e., 7 years) to acquire academic languageTruth: The amount of time it takes students to master academic language directly depends on:exposure to academic languageamount of practice in using academic languageextent of academic language instruction and feedback
43 Truth: Even after completing ESL instruction: Myth: We can teach academic language in an ESL or an English language development (ELD) class, and then students don’t need more instruction afterwardsTruth: Even after completing ESL instruction:students need sustained, effective academic language instruction throughout the upper grades and even in college in order to master correct usage and expression
44 Myth: Academic language is easy to assess Truth: Academic language is actually very poorly defined for assessment purposesResearch is just beginning to develop that will help us identify the features of academic language that are assessable at the various proficiency levelsWhen we get test scores back on proficiency, we’ve only got a slice of what students can do academically
45 Sources: www. Program in Academic English/ESL ColorinColorado.org