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Many students, ranging from native English speakers to recent immigrants, need help in understanding and using the language of school. Language is the lifeblood of learning in all content areas, and it plays a major role in academic achievement. Building Academic Language explains the functions and features of academic language that every teacher (language arts, history, math, & science teachers, etc.) should know for supporting academic reading, writing, and discussion. The book includes research-based instructional and assessment activities that content teachers can use to build students' abilities to understand and describe the many abstract concepts, higher-order thinking skills, and complex relationships in a discipline. The book emphasizes an approach that builds from students' existing ways of learning and communicating, scaffolding them to think and talk as content area experts think and talk about math, science, history, and language arts.
Major topics and themes include:
- What is academic language and how does it differ by content area?
- How can language-building activities (discussions, small groups, etc.) support content understanding?
- How can we build language abilities for content reading and writing - and vice versa?
- How can we build on students' diverse ways of understanding, learning, and communicating about the world?
- How can we more effectively model and scaffold academic language in our teaching and assessment?