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Academic Language in Diverse Classrooms: Definitions and Contexts

Academic Language in Diverse Classrooms: Definitions and Contexts

Foreword by Jeff Zwiers

June 2014 | 256 pages | Corwin
This companion (foundational) book to the six-book series, Academic Language Demands for Language Learners: From Text to Context, encapsulates the broad ideas of the series by presenting the evolving theory behind the construct of academic language, a definition and examples of each of its components, and a template for direct classroom applicability. Each of the six books in the series is a more detailed, comprehensive treatment of text-based academic language at each grade level and describes the process by which teachers can incorporate academic language into their instructional assessment practices. This foundations book is suitable for use with any (or all) of the six volumes or can be used separately.
About the Authors
In the Beginning….
1. What is Academic Language?
The Role of Language in Schooling and Beyond

Different Registers

The Nature of Academic Language

Evolving Perspectives of Academic Language

Academic Language Versus Social Language Perspectives

Systemic Functional Linguistic Perspectives

Language Skills Perspectives

Sociocultural Perspectives

Language as Action Perspectives

Academic Language Learning as a Developmental Process

Considerations for Students with Disabilities

Oral and Written Languages

Oral Language as a Vehicle for Promoting Academic Language Development

Oral Language as a Bridge to Literacy

Multiliteracies and Multimodalities as Sources of Academic Language

Raising Awareness of Academic Language

Academic Language and Social Justice

For Further Thinking

2. What Are the Dimensions of Academic Language?
Identifying Academic Language Within and Across Content Areas

Analyzing Academic Language Within Discourse

Balance Between Informational and Literary Texts

Differences Between Nonfiction and Informational Texts

Examining Sentence-Level Structures

Language Functions as Expressions of Sentence-Level Meaning

Identifying Vocabulary--Words, Phrases, and Expressions

Development of Academic Vocabulary

Teaching Academic Vocabulary in Authentic Contexts Through Meaningful Interactions

Vocabulary Instruction for English Language Learners

For Further Thinking

3. How Do Standards Define and Shape Academic Language Use?
The Impact of the New Standards on Shaping Academic Language

Bringing Standards Together: Content Learning Through Language and Language Learning Through Content

Content and Language Learning for English Language Learners

The Impact of Standards in Shaping Grade-Level Language for Academic Purposes

Academic Language Within Content Standards

Resources for ELLs for the New Content Standards

Examples of Academic Language in Content Standards

Academic Language in English Language Development/Proficiency Standards

Academic Language Use in Language Standards

The Impact of Home Language on Academic Language Development

Suggestions for Redefining Teaching and Learning Around Academic Language Use

For Further Thinking

4. How is Academic Language Used in Content Areas Schoolwide?
Seeing Academic Language Throughout the School Day

Listening in the Music Classroom

Moving From a Physical Education Class to the Arts

Looking Into Mathematics Classrooms

Entering an English Language Arts Class

Visiting a Science Class

The Language of Science Textbooks

Exploring Academic Language in a Social Studies Class

The Specialized Language of Social Studies Texts

Effective Instruction in Content Classrooms Around a Unit of Learning

For Further Thinking

5. How Can Academic Language Be Integrated Into Instruction and Assessment?
Maintaining a Focus on Academic Language: A Historical Perspective

Planning a Unit of Learning Around Academic Language Use

Capitalizing on Linguistic and Cultural Resources

Deciding on a Theme for a Unit of Learning

Matching the Theme to Standards

Academic Language Use in Learning Targets and Differentiated Objectives

Infusing Academic Language Into Unit Targets and Differentiated Lesson Objectives

Instructional Activities and Tasks

The Relationship Between Assessment and Instruction

Placement of Assessment Within a Curricular Framework

Assessment Across Lessons of a Unit: Measuring Standards and Learning Targets

Assessment Within Lessons: Measuring Differentiated Objectives

Crafting Instructional Activities and Tasks

Reflecting on Teaching and Learning

Teacher Reflection

Student Reflection

For Further Thinking

6. How is Academic Language Situated in Curricular Design and Infused Into Professional Learning?
A Theoretical Basis for Curricular Frameworks

Early Thinking on Curriculum

Recent Thinking on Curriculum

Conceptual Frameworks That Integrate Language and Content

The Value of an Integrated Curricular Framework for Diverse Schools and Districts

A Curricular Framework That Features Academic Language Use

The Role of Professional Learning in Understanding and Promoting Academic Language Use

Implementing Professional Learning: From Two Participants to District Level Participation

Making School a Meaningful Experience for 21st Century Students

Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning

Transformation of Schools

Promoting Academic Language for All Students and Teachers

Seeking Advocacy Within the Educational Community

For Further Thinking

At the End….
A. CCSS for Mathematics and Related Academic Language
B. Examples from the CCSS for English Language Arts of Related Academic Language
C. A Curricular Framework Highlighting Academic Language

"This book brings language learning in the classroom alive! While there is plenty of theory and research to ground the practices the authors describe, this is not a dry book about language learning. Against a backdrop of new standards, the authors skillfully take the reader through detailed vignettes of classroom practice that support students’ development of academic language, while at the same time discussing why the practice is effective. For those who are interested in learning more about academic language and how to help students develop it, this book is a must read."

Margaret Heritage, Assistant Director for Professional Development
National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA

"This detailed and richly exampled book provides a comprehensive framework for both pre-service and practicing teachers to dig deeply into the nature and development of the language skills necessary for academic success. It emphasizes the need to move beyond a narrow conception of academic language as vocabulary words to an exploration of the nature of instructional and assessment practices that develop language and thinking at the conceptual and discourse levels. The classroom-based examples from across the curriculum, including the arts and physical education, illuminate the nature of the language demands unique to and common across each discipline. I highly recommend this book as a vital tool to guide curriculum planning and renewal at every level."

Nancy Commins, Clinical Professor
School of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado at Denver

"Academic Language weaves content and language teaching as a focus for designing viable units of learning throughout the school year. By providing students with linguistic tools to understand and use academic content, it enhances their opportunities to meet the rigor of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. The authors offer explicit examples of how to build students’ language development using a framework with clear learning targets that lead to effective teaching practices."

Janeen A. Kelly, Director of Department of ELL/WL
Washoe County School District, Reno, NV

"This book provides a promising vision on how to teach academic language to diverse learners including English Language Learners (ELLs). The authors present a comprehensive framework that combines learning content and language in ways that engage students to learn key ideas and concepts, link concrete knowledge and abstract knowledge, and promote critical thinking. The specific steps on how to create differentiate language objectives for ELLs at different levels of English language proficiency is particularly helpful. I highly recommend this book for general education and English as-a-second language teachers who work as a team to provide effective instruction for diverse learners."

Maria del Rosario (Charo) Basterra, Deputy Director
The Mid-Atlantic Equity Center

Sample Materials & Chapters


1. What is Academic Language?

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452234786