Academic Language,
Academic Success!
Pathways to Bilingualism: Pedagogy, Best Practices
and Accountability
Bilingual Immersion Conference for educators
Sao Paulo, Brazil
April 30, 2012
Margo Gottlieb, Ph.D.
World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA), University of
Wisconsin, Madison and Illinois Resource Center, Arlington Heights
[email protected]
TODAY’S QUESTIONS….

What is academic language and what does it
look like?

What are the components of academic
language?

How might language teachers analyze the
academic demands of text to use for
instruction?
2
‘Mastery of academic language is arguably the
single most important determinant of academic
success for individual students. ..it is not
possible to overstate the role that language
plays in determining students’ success with
academic content. Proficient use ofand control over- academic language is the
key to content area learning.’
-----Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer, & Rivera, 2006. p. 7
3
A Model of Academic Language
Academic Language
(Gottlieb, 2003)
Social Language
Academic Achievement
ACADEMIC LANGUAGE IS THE LANGUAGE….
 of
school (Gottlieb, Katz, & Ernst-Slavit, 2009)
 needed
by students to understand and
communicate in the academic disciplines (Bailey,
2006)
 consisting
of a set of words, grammar, and
organizational strategies used to describe
complex ideas, higher-order thinking processes,
and abstract concepts (Zwiers, 2008)
5
ACADEMIC LANGUAGE SERVES AS A CROSSWALK
BETWEEN LANGUAGE AND CONTENT.
Language
Instruction
through
Content
Academic
Language
Content
Instruction
through
Language
6
ACADEMIC LANGUAGE IS THE CENTERPIECE OF
CONTENT AND LANGUAGE LEARNING
Academic
language
Portuguese
English
Hebrew
WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF ACADEMIC
LANGUAGE?
1. Discourse level (Genres)….how oral and
written text is organized
2. Sentence level (Forms of language use in
context)…how sentences are ordered within
the context of the discourse
3. Word & Expression level (Vocabulary)
….how words or expressions are presented
within sentences
8
DISCOURSE FEATURES: GENRES OR TEXT TYPES
Language Arts: What’s the difference between
fairy tales and folk tales?
Mathematics: What’s the difference between tables
and graphs?
Science: What’s the difference between field notes
and research studies?
Social Studies: What’s the difference between
primary documents and biographies?
9
THE GRAMMAR OF MATHEMATICS
Your turn!!
How many different sentences can you
make from the following mathematical
expression?
3+2= ?
For example, ‘How much are 3 and 2?’
A SIMPLE ADDITION EQUATION….
What is three plus two?
 How much is three and two more?
 What is the sum of three and two?
 How many are there all together?
 Three plus two equals how many?
 Add three and two; what is the total?
 Put three and two together…how many in all?

11
Words and Expressions
Vocabulary….
General
Terms associated multiple content areas:
combine, describe, therefore
Specialized
Terms associated with a content area:
divisor, least common denominator
Technical
Terms associated with a specific content
area topic:
ratio, integrals, Pythagorean theorem
Egbert & Ernst-Slavit, 2010
12
ACADEMIC LANGUAGE:
MULTIPLE MEANINGS OF WORDS
Think about the word ‘table’, a piece of
furniture.
How might it be used in the content area of
• English language arts?
• Mathematics?
• Science?
• Social Studies?
13
THE LANGUAGE OF SCHOOL CONSISTS OF:

Social and instructional language

The language of language arts

The language of mathematics

The language of science

The language of social studies
14
LET’S INVESTIGATE THE LEVELS OF ACADEMIC
LANGUAGE ACROSS THE CONTENT AREAS!
15
SOCIAL AND INSTRUCTIONAL LANGUAGE

Discourse level: Announcements over an
intercom; directions for assignments

Sentence level: It’s time to line up! Pass out
the paper. Please put your chairs under the
table.

Word/ expression level: Fire drill; lunch line;
social network
THE LANGUAGE OF LANGUAGE ARTS

Discourse level: Business letters; poetry;
essays

Sentence level: ‘Once upon a time…’;
‘ break a leg’

Word/ expression level: Table of Contents;
Beginning, middle, end
THE LANGUAGE OF MATHEMATICS

Discourse level: Story problems; theorems

Sentence level: ‘How many are left?’; ‘What is
the mean?’

Word/ expression level: goes into; times table
THE LANGUAGE OF SCIENCE

Discourse level: Lab reports; research
articles; science journals

Sentence level: ‘The findings indicate…’;
‘ According to my observation…’

Word/ expression level: Hypothesis; water
table; base
THE LANGUAGE OF SOCIAL STUDIES

Discourse level: Timelines; atlases

Sentence level: ‘Brazil borders every nation on the
continent except Chile and Ecuador.’
‘Brazil was discovered by Cabral in 1500’…

Word/ expression level: revolution; federal
republic; table top
YOUR TURN! SHARE WITH A PARTNER…
Pick a content area such as mathematics or
science….

What is some of the academic language you
encounter in your grade-level textbooks?

What is some of the academic language you
teach your students?
21
S P A N I S H Language
Development Standards
E N G L I S H Language
Development Standards
ELDS
1
English language learners communicate for
Social and Instructional purposes within the
school setting
ELDS
2
English language learners communicate
information, ideas and concepts necessary for
academic success in the content area of
Language Arts
ELDS
3
English language learners communicate
information, ideas and concepts necessary for
academic success in the content area of
Mathematics
ELDS
4
English language learners communicate
information, ideas and concepts necessary for
academic success in the content area of
Science
ELDS
5
English language learners communicate
information, ideas and concepts necessary for
academic success in the content area of Social
Studies
Dynamic
bilinguals use
their metalinguistic and
meta-cultural
resources to
navigate
within and
between
their two
languages.
Spanish language learners communicate
for Social and Instructional purposes
within the school setting
SLDS 1
Spanish language learners communicate
information, ideas and concepts necessary
for academic success in the content area of
Language Arts
SLDS
2
Spanish language learners communicate
information, ideas and concepts necessary
for academic success in the content area of
Mathematics
SLDS
3
Spanish language learners communicate
information, ideas and concepts necessary
for academic success in the content area of
Science
SLDS
4
Spanish language learners communicate
information, ideas and concepts necessary
for academic success in the content area of
Social Studies
SLDS
5
HOW MIGHT TEACHERS CONVERT
ACADEMIC LANGUAGE DEMANDS INTO
CURRICULAR THEMES AND TASKS?
23
Text Analysis for Identifying Academic Language
24
WATER’S SMALLEST PARTS
‘A drop of water falls through the air. Down it
splashes, breaking apart into tiny droplets. What
would you see if you could break water into even
smaller bits?
No matter how closely you look, you cannot see
water’s tiniest parts. Like every other substance in
the world, water is made of very tiny particles called
molecules. On a pin head, the smallest droplet
contains more than three hundred trillion water
molecules.’ Wick, W. (1997). A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder.
New York: Scholastic Press, p. 7.
25
LET’S FIND SOME EXAMPLES OF ACADEMIC
LANGUAGE

Discourse level
What kind of text is it?
Which the sentences lend themselves to
definitional text?
Which the sentences lend themselves to
descriptive text?
26
WATER’S SMALLEST PARTS….DISCOURSE
‘A drop of water falls through the air. Down it
splashes, breaking apart into tiny droplets. What
would you see if you could break water into even
smaller bits?
No matter how closely you look, you cannot see
water’s tiniest parts. Like every other substance in
the world, water is made of very tiny particles
called molecules. On a pin head, the smallest
droplet contains more than three hundred trillion
water molecules.’
Wick, W. (1997). A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder.
New York: Scholastic Press, p. 7.
27
Academic Language

Sentence level
What are some of the grammatical structures
that might be difficult for language learners?
28
WATER’S SMALLEST PARTS….SENTENCE LEVEL
‘A drop of water falls through the air. Down it
splashes, breaking apart into tiny droplets. What
would you see if you could break water into even
smaller bits?
No matter how closely you look, you cannot see
water’s tiniest parts. Like every other substance in
the world, water is made of very tiny particles called
molecules. On a pin head, the smallest droplet
contains more than three hundred trillion water
molecules.’
Wick, W. (1997). A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder.
New York: Scholastic Press, p. 7.
29
ACADEMIC LANGUAGE

Word and expression level
What are some of the academic words or words
with multiple meanings?
30
WATER’S SMALLEST PARTS……WORD LEVEL
‘A drop of water falls through the air. Down it
splashes, breaking apart into tiny droplets. What
would you see if you could break water into even
smaller bits?
No matter how closely you look, you cannot see
water’s tiniest parts. Like every other substance in
the world, water is made of very tiny particles called
molecules. On a pin head, the smallest droplet
contains more than three hundred trillion water
molecules.’
Wick, W. (1997). A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder.
New York: Scholastic Press, p. 7.
31
How can you take academic language
and incorporate it into instruction?
32
DESIGNING CURRICULUM FOR LANGUAGE
LEARNERS
Theme
Activities
Tasks
Projects
Documentation of Student Learning
33
WHAT MIGHT BE SOME CURRICULAR THEMES
AROUND THE TOPIC OF WATER?

The Water Cycle…What Happens to Water?

Precipitation…Water, Water, Everywhere!

Weather….Where’s the Water?

Molecules…..The Tiniest Parts of Water
34
Given the theme …..
What is the main
concept or ‘big
idea’ for this
theme?
Content
Task
35
What is the academic
language associated
with this concept?
Language Task
36
EXAMPLE CONTENT TASKS FOR THE SCIENCE
THEMES
Students graph the
amount of
precipitation over a
month in two
locations.
Students order
events in the water
cycle using a
graphic organizer.
37

What might be a complementary academic
language task?
 Students
describe the amount of
precipitation from week to week using
comparative language.
 Students
narrate (in speaking or writing)
the story of the water cycle using
sequential language.
38

In bilingual immersion classrooms, language
and content are integrated. The content
provides the context in which meaningful
communication occurs.

In bilingual immersion classrooms, academic
language is being developed in two
languages. Students need to be able to make
the crosswalk between languages to succeed
academically.
39
‘High achievement always takes place
in the framework of high expectations.’
……Charles F. Kettering
40
ACADEMIC LANGUAGE….
KEYS TO ACADEMIC SUCCESS FOR
LANGUAGE LEARNING!
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What’s common about common language assessments? …