Everybody’s Talking!
Helping Students Build Academic
Language
Alfredo Schifini, Ph.D.
August 6, 2014
Alfredo Schifini, Ph.D.
Co-author:
In this section we will explore
• The construct of Academic
Language
• The importance of oral language
development and implications
for instruction
• Examples of Best Practices for
structuring academic student
talk and building vocabulary
Best Practices for EL
Rooted in what we know about…
Learning Theory
Language Arts Research
Linguistics
The Academic Language
Journey
• ELs typically make rapid
progress in social language and
literacy development in early
grades
• Academic vocabulary and other
linguistic challenges demand
high-order language skills especially as they relate to
reading comprehension
The Academic Language
Journey
• A strong oral base in scholastic
English is an invaluable tool in
positioning students for
academic achievement (for not
only English Learners
Rationale for Enhanced Oral
Language Development
• Oral language development and
proficiency is critical to
literacy…and is often overlooked
in instruction
• Well-developed language ORAL
proficiency is associated with
well-developed reading
comprehension skills
August and Shanahan, 2006
Quick Reflection
Think about your own personal
language learning experiences…
• What worked and what didn’t?
• Did it result in proficiency?
• Why or why not?
• Relevance to your teaching
today???
• Think (30 sec) Share (1 min)
Language Learning
Action-based perspective
• Language development occurs when
actions are well planned and
scaffolded by the teacher
• Activities require lots of student
language USE
• Reflection: What do you already do to
get kids to use language?
(1 min Share)
Importance of Academic
Language
• Student achievement is influenced to
a great extent by one’s academic
language proficiency
•
•
•
•
•
express complex ideas orally
to write coherent, cogent paragraphs
formulate answers to complex questions
read with deep comprehension requires
engage in higher order linguistic / cognitive
tasks
Academic Language
Think about it…
What is this thing called
“Academic Language”? What’s
your definition of Academic
Language?
Academic Language
Not just…
• Vocabulary
• Talking in complete sentences
• Using stems or frames
• Discrete teaching of forms/
functions and grammar
• More group/oral work or
academic projects
Basis of Academic Language
• Prior knowledge (world and
content specific)
• Conceptual base (content
specific information)
• Vocabulary
• Pragmatics
• Syntax
Academic Language
Register of language used in
academic discourse
• Text Level - ways of writing
(persuade, describe, explain)
• Sentence Level - (complex
sentences showing relationships
of ideas)
Academic Language
Vocabulary Level:
• Content Specific - (mitosis, paranoia)
• Varies across disciplines
• General Terms - (analysis, myopic,
feedback)
• Signal Words - (however, on the
other hand, as a result of, in
summary)
Structured talk
Foster the discourse skills to
engage fully in:
• planning, researching,
discussing, co-constructing,
presenting of academic work
• Using challenging material/text as
vehicle to enhance high order oral
and written language skills
Language Functions
• Academic tasks require use of
higher order language functions
(argue persuasively, evaluate
differing pts. of view, synthesize
info, hypothesize, etc.)
• Functions are tied to abstract
and complex content and appear
in a variety of contexts
• They form the language basis for
reading with deep meaning
Group Activity
Use the following pix to:
• Analyze language demands (even w/nonacademic material)
• Explore language development possibilities
and ways to scaffold and extend language
• Reflect on the ramifications for instruction
Practice
With a partner, compare/contrast
the two photos
• List signal/transition word(s) to
Compare/Contrast the two
photos (but, both, etc.)
• Organize the words by two
language proficiencies (B/I and
Adv)
Practice
Compare/Contrast
• Like, both, but, however,
unlike… (B,I)
• Just as, by comparison, as
opposed to, whereas, one
distinction between … (Adv)
Pair and Practice
Inferences:
Who do you suppose these people
are?
Why do you think they are playing?
• Share your answer to each question
and share with your partner
• Write an adv level phrase to make an
inference ( e.g. I surmise… I assume)
Pair and Practice
Inferences: Who do you suppose these
people are? Why do you think they are
playing?
• I imagine that…based on X…I think that…
(B,I)
• I assume…I believe…I guess…I don’t know
for sure, but…
• I surmise…I deduce…
• I intuit…reading between the lines… (Adv)
Pair and Practice
Interpretation:
• Come up with one word that
describes the sentiment in this
picture (e.g.sweet,
delightful,etc.)
• Share your word with your
partner
Pair and Practice
Interpretation:
• Possible words that describe the sentiment
in this pix (sweet, delightful, charming,
tender, adorable, engaging, captivating)
• Pick a word and tell how you have heard it
used before: (candy is sweet; the baby is
adorable)
• Tell why you chose the word to describe
the sentiment in this pix
Pair and Practice
With your partner:
• list as many phrases as you can
in 1 min to describe the soccer
player’s mood/emotions upon
scoring the winning goal
Pair Practice/Possibilities
•
•
•
•
•
Tickled pink
Gone wild/crazy / gone nuts
On cloud nine
Thrilled to death
Over the top
Complete:
(He is on cloud nine) …because…
Pair Practice
Crazy, happy, gone wild, thrilled (B, I)
Elated, euphoric, frenzied, overjoyed
(Adv) Pick one of the ADV words
• Describe one of the words above:
tell what “it is” …and what “it isn’t”
• share one word that “it isn’t”
Extension:
• Share a personal experience that depicts
the expression using the following
antonym
Word Map
is
is not
antonym
is not
word
is not
illustration
non example
non- illustration
is
synonym
is
antonym
example
synonym
synonym
example
illustration
non example
non- illustration
example
illustration
non example
non- illustration
Teachers’ Turn
Choose a function/structure you
would you focus on in using the
previous pix (generalizing, inferring,
predicting, speculating, synthesizing,
etc.)
• With a partner, write a question to get
the kids to use language related to the
function
• Write one sentence frame/stem to
scaffold the language
Possible Frames/Stems
• I appears that…
• It seems to me…
• I predict that the boy…but on the
other hand the girl…
Sample Questions for Language
Function of Classifying
• Which of these go together?
Why?
• How are these put together?
• How are these alike/different?
• What could you call this group?
• Tell me about all the things you
put in this group?
• How could you rearrange them
differently?
Sample words that show relationship for
Language Function of Classifying
• Above/ under/ behind/ next to/ close
by/ far away from/ near/ between/
among/ beside/ in front of/ adjacent/
alongside/ in relation to/ parallel
• Sample Frames:
The________ are next to the
_______
(might become)
Among these items are___ and ___ and ___. Alongside
(or adjacent to ) them are ____ and ___. They are
organized by color, but these others are grouped
by_____
Possible Adjustments
Language Scaffolding
• Contextualization (focus ques,
brief narrative, pixs, videos)
• Provide more en route checking
for understanding
• Pose a variety of question types
to promote extended talk
Possible Adjustments
• Paraphrase student responses
• Support responses with
frames/structures/charts
• Set up opportunities for
structure talk in a variety of
group settings
Application
• Skim the handout Ideas Section
• Put a + next to the language
scaffold you use well
• Put a * next to the one you will
work on this year
• Share with your partner
Possible Extensions
• With a colleague, walk thru one
unit in TE and place sticky notes
next to each language scaffold
you find
• Share with a colleague one
strategy you may use the
scaffold interactively to build
language
Structured Student Talk
Scaffolded
Interdisciplinary
Content Emphasis
Serious Vocabulary Wk
Pairs/ Sm Groups
Structured
Tasks/Action
Text Talk
L/S
Framework for Reading
MOTIVATION
Phonics
Phonemic Awareness
Word
Recognition
Strategies
Fluency
COMPREHENSION
Academic
Language
Comprehension
Strategies
Vocabulary
DECODING
• John Shefelbine/Developmental Studies Center [See p. 20 in CA Reading/ELA Framework]•
Vocabulary in Language
Development
Vocabulary Taught Directly
• Explicit, intentional teaching of
new words
Word Selection:
• Critical to the passage
• Useful in future readings
• Consider “Tier Two” words for
direct instruction
Vocabulary Tiers
• Tier One : Familiar/basic words for native
speakers.
Do not require instruction in a school
setting. However, beginning ELs may not
know them.
(e.g., bad, some, baby, clock)
• Tier Two : Likely to appear in a variety of
texts, but whose meanings they are less
likely to know. Words that can be defined
and associated with words already familiar
to students. High utility words.
(e.g., tell – inform; surprised – astonished;
lucky- fortunate)
Vocabulary Tiers
• Tier Three: Words of limited use related to
a specific content area
(e.g., chlorophyll, mitochondria) Because
they are specific to a particular content,
students can use context of texts to
establish meaning.
Beck, McKeown and Kucan, 2002
Tier Two Words
• Importance – appear frequently
across a variety of texts
• Instructional Potential – can be
worked to make connections
and deepen understanding of
other words and concepts
• Conceptual Understandingprovide precision in describing a
concept
Vocabulary in Language
Development
Teaching word learning strategies
• Prefix/Suffix
• Greek and Latin Roots
• Cognates
• Inter-relationship among
words
• Use of reference aides
• Use of context clues
Most Frequent Prefixes
Prefix
antideforeintertrans-
Meaning
against
opposite
before
between
across
Key Word
antifreeze
defrost
forecast
interact
transport
NOTE: Not all language groups are familiar with the concept of
prefixes and suffixes! This concept is alien to some language
groups.
Most Frequent Suffixes
Suffix
-en
-ful
-less
-ment
Meaning
made of
full of
without
action/process
Key Word
wooden
careful
fearless
enjoyment
Key Vocabulary Strategy:
Morphological Clues
• A high percentage of words have
easily identifiable structures – they
can be broken into parts
• There is great value in teaching roots,
prefixes, and suffixes for purposes of
vocabulary development
• Use common Latin roots to link
known words in Spanish to new ones
in English
Spanish-Academic English
Connections
•
•
•
•
VALIENTE = valiant, valor
SUFICIENTE = suffice, sufficient,
OCUPAR= occupy
SIGNIFICAR = significance,
significant
• ALIMENTAR = aliment
• ENAMORADO = enamored
Getting Started
• Look at the curriculumembedded assessments in a
themes/unit & content Stds.
• Examine the TA for opportunities
for interaction
• Capitalize on visuals, text
features and ancillary materials
to scaffold student talk
Think, Pair, Share
HAMPTON-BROWN
• Share something new that you
learned.
• What do you plan to do
differently?
A
B
THINK
A
PAIR
B
A
B
SHARE
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