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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?

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ISBN: 9781452234786