Subject literacies and
access to quality education
Strasbourg, 27 – 28 September 2012
Language Policy Unit - DG II
Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France
www.coe.int/lang
SUBJECT LITERACIES AND ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION
Strasbourg, 27 – 28 September 2012
Aims and objectives – main
issues and priorities –
working methods
E. Thürmann
What do we mean by „subject literacy“?
SUBJECT
LITERACIES AND ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION,
STRASBOURG, 27 – 28 SEPTEMBER 2012
Two leading questions
• How can educators provide learning opportunities
for students to gain control over a language variety
which is crucial for successful learning in and across
all school subjects and extend their capacity to
move freely across a broad spectrum of language
varieties in and out of school?
• Are frameworks for academic language use a viable
option for mapping such learning opportuinities into
curriculum documents and guidelines?
SUBJECT
LITERACIES AND ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION,
STRASBOURG, 27 – 28 SEPTEMBER 2012
Aims and Objectives
Prepare envisaged awareness-raising intergovernmental
conference in 2013 on “Language Requirements in
Subject Learning – Frameworks for Curriculum
Development”
• Take stock of CoE´s relevant documents on the role of
language in knowledge building and subject literacies
• Compare and contrast two approaches to framework
construction (Norway, North-Rhine-Westfalia)
• Take stock of developments in other countries
(educational contexts)
• Consider options for frameworks from the perspective
of content domains (las, science, mathematics, social
sciences)
• Identify need for support and recommend further
action
SUBJECT
LITERACIES AND ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION,
STRASBOURG, 27 – 28 SEPTEMBER 2012
Issues and Priorities
• What do we have to consider when talking about
language use and language requirements of the
content classroom?
• How can we bridge the gap between content
standards and the academic language implicit in
these standards?
• Which options for a Framework structure?
• Which priorities for developing descriptors, defining
curricular standards and their implementation?
What do we have to consider when talking about
language in the content classroom?
Classroom language
use
• Teacher-learner
interaction (monologic –
dialogic instruction –
IRF-cycle)
• learner-learner
interaction (various
types of „talk“)
Science
Organise
procedures
- negotiate
meaning
Retrieve
information and
acquire
knowledge
(Re-)
Structure
mental
concepts
Present Evaluate
learning learning
outprocess
comes
Make
social
noise
SUBJECT
LITERACIES AND ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION,
STRASBOURG, 27 – 28 SEPTEMBER 2012
What do we have to consider when talking about
language in the content classroom?
Language use in classrooms is a blend of different
varieties
Science
Science
• Basic colloquial language (BCL)
• School Navigational Language
(SNL)
• Essential Academic
Language (EAL)
• Curriculum Content
Language (CCL)
Cp. Bailey & Heritage (2008) - (Scarcella (2008)
SUBJECT
LITERACIES AND ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION,
STRASBOURG, 27 – 28 SEPTEMBER 2012
What do we have to consider when talking about language in the content
classroom?
Basic colloquiaql use
Contenental Drift
Scientists of the early 20th century
believed that oceans and continents
were geographically fixed. They regarded
the surface of the planet as a static skin
spread over a molten, gradually cooling
interior. They believed that the cooling of
the planet resulted in its contraction,
which caused the outer skin to contort
and wrinkle into mountains and valleys.
Many people
noticed, however, that the
Science
easternScience
shorelines of South America and
the western shoreline of Africa seemed
to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. One
scientist who took this observation
seriously was Alfred Wegener. Wegener.
Essential academic use
Curriculum content use
What do we have to consider when talking about language in the
content classroom?
• Basic colloquial language (BCL)
• School Navigational Language
(SNL)
• Essential Academic Language
(EAL)
• Curriculum Content Language
(CCL)
intimate
casual
consultative
formal
frozen
More or less: distanced – decontextualised
– dispassionate – exact – objective –
complex – highly structured – complete –
unambiguous – explicit …
Bridging the gap between content standards and implicit academic language
Science
Biology
Students are able to …
identify similarities and
differences as a result of
criteria-based comparisons,
e.g. anatomy and
morphology of organisms.
• Semiotic system?
• Discourse
funtion(s)?
• Mode
(oral/written)?
• Skill(s)?
• Discourse
function(s)?
Choice of
linguistic/textual
means
Bridging the gap between content standards and implicit academic language
http://lalas.ceee.gwu.edu/
SUBJECT
LITERACIES AND ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION,
STRASBOURG, 27 – 28 SEPTEMBER 2012
Which options for a Framework structure?
subject-specific content
semiotic
systems genres
literacy
cognitivelanguage
functions
text- / discourse competence
coherence/cohesion – references – linearity – development of ideas structure …
linguistic elements – language means
pronunciation
spelling
lexis
correctness, appropriateness
grammar
SUBJECT
LITERACIES AND ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION,
STRASBOURG, 27 – 28 SEPTEMBER 2012
Which options for a Framework structure?
common
educational
language
objectives
e.g.
LaS, history,
maths, science
e.g.
Norway - NRW
language
requirements of
the content
classroom
The approach to subject
literacies and common
educational language
objectives across the
curriculum can only be
managed with the help of a
common framework. A twoway approach seems to be a
viable strategy for
conceptualising the
framework´s architecture.
common
educational
language
objectives
language
requirements of
the content
classroom
Which priorities for developing descriptors, defining curricular
standards and implementation?
level
action
supra, CoE • focus on a common framework structure which is
LPU
compatible with aims and objectives of subject
teaching across the curriculum
• support for filling the framework dimensions (e.g.
genres, cognitive-language functions, language
means) with inventories of possible descriptors to
choose from
• application of general descriptors to specific subject
areas, to a range of subject literacies
• …
cp. Francis Goullier (2012)
Which priorities for developing descriptors, defining curricular
standards and implementation?
level
action
Macro:
ministries,
national /
regional / local
authorities
• Update and enrich curricular documents across
the whole range of content areas by applying a /
the framework for language of education
(essential academic language) as a coordinating
tool
• Provide ressources for the training and the
mission of „Literacy Coaches“
• Update and enrich teachers´ professional policy
profile accordingly and implement it through
teacher education
• Recommend new strategies for textbook
providers
Which priorities for developing descriptors, defining curricular
standards and implementation?
level
action
meso:
individual
school
Micro:
teachers /
classrooms
• exploit school autonomy and strive for consensus of a
whole-school language learning policy (school-based
language development plan)
• set up an academic language analysis team to bridge
the gap between content standards and the academic
language implicit in these standards
• critical-friends approach to classroom observation
using a set of criteria for language-sensitive subject
teaching and learning
• network with other schools focussing on subject
literacy and language of education
• …
Which priorities for developing descriptors, defining curricular
standards and implementation?
level
action
nano:
individual
learner
• invest in language of education and subject literacy to
boost „cultural capital“
• take notice of and adopt communicative strategies
and textual patterns which help to solve problems
encountered in the learning process
• be aware of his/her own socio-cultural background
and language biography and its intrinsic norms and
values with respect to academic requirements
• be willing and able to switch codes in and out of
school according to situational requirements
• …
Working methods
Setting the scene: The CoE´
perspective, LaS, LaC
Exemplary curricular initiatives:
Norway, Northrhine-Westfalia
(Germany)
Subject literacies: History, language
as a subject, mathematics, science
Summing up – Next steps
Working methods
Identifying and reflecting on context
factors for framework
construction/implementation
Contribution of content teaching to
language education and a general
Framework for subject literacies
Needs for support? - Next steps? Recommendations (CoE)?
Thanks for your attention
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