ELD Weekly Bulletin

Title III/ELD Listserv - January 19, 2016

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Eight Strategies for Teaching Academic Language

by Todd Finley

"Change your language and you change your thoughts." -- Karl Albrecht

Understanding Academic Language

Academic language is a meta-language that helps learners acquire the 50,000 words that they are expected to have internalized by the end of high school and includes everything from illustration and chart literacy to speaking, grammar and genres within fields.

Think of academic language as the verbal clothing that we don in classrooms and other formal contexts to demonstrate cognition within cultures and to signal college readiness. There are two major kinds: instructional language ("What textual clues support your analysis?") and language of the discipline (examples include alliteration in language arts,axioms in math, class struggle in social studies and atoms in science). No student comes to school adept in academic discourse -- thus, thoughtful instruction is required.

Where to Start

It would be a mistake to think that academic language is a garbage pail category involving any word, depending on the context. A banana daiquiri is a fine adult beverage that most first graders cannot define, but is not an example of academic language. Nor do Tier 1 words such as and or house fit the category, although these basic words are important to teach English-language learners (ELLs).

If you are new to incorporating academic language into your lessons, a good place to begin is with Tier 2, high-frequency, general instruction words (such as paraphrase, summarize, predict and justify) that learners need to know for completing an activity, but that are not a lesson's primary learning objective. These words are critical to students' successful processing of academic tasks and appear in the Common Core State Standards and on standardized tests.

Teaching Academic Language

Academic language requires that students move away from social language, with its more simplistic grammar and Anglo-Saxon vocabulary (body, chew,mellow), to sophisticated grammar with Greek and Latin words (aesthetics, ctenophora, heuristic). However, do not ban informal communication from the classroom, because this relaxed discourse is critical for social bonding, cooperative learning, interpreting literature and information processing. Students should be taught to look at and through both registers. "Think in terms of uncovering the subject -- that is, making the ways of using language and the ways of thinking in the subject explicit to your students," writes Pauline Gibbons, the author of three books in the field of English language education.

Read more here about eight instructional strategies you can use to teach academic language in your classroom.

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Mapped: 7,000 Languages around the World

There are thought to be more than 7,000 languages around the world, shared between almost seven billion speakers.

These languages are spread unevenly across the globe, with Asia and Africa being home to higher levels of linguistic diversity.

Some languages could be spoken by fewer than 36 people - with Pitcaim, the country with the fewest speakers per language, having two languages for a population of just 36 speakers.

Read more here about language densities around the world.

ELD Department Meetings - January 14, 2016

In case you missed the ELD department meetings on January 14th, the powerpoints for the elementary meeting and the secondary meeting can be found here.

We look forward to seeing you at the next elementary (3:30pm) and secondary (4:30pm) department meetings on February 11th at Wilson Teaching and Learning Academy.

The benefits of a bilingual brain - Mia Nacamulli

Upcoming Title III Events

Week of January 18th:

January 19, 8:30am - ACCESS Kindergarten New Test Administrator Training

January 19, 8:30am - ACCESS 2.0 Test Coordinator Part 1 Training

January 19, 12:30pm - ACCESS Kindergarten Veteran Test Administrator Training

January 19, 12:30pm - ACCESS 2.0 Online Test Administrator Training

January 19, 2:00pm - ACCESS Kindergarten Veteran Test Administrator Training

January 20, 8:30am - ACCESS 2.0 Online Test Administrator Training

January 20, 8:30am - ACCESS 2.0 Paper-based Test Administrator Training

January 20, 12:30pm - ACCESS 2.0 Online Test Administrator Training

January 20, 12:30pm - ACCESS 2.0 Test Coordinator Part 2 Training

January 21, 3:30pm - SIOP Seminar: Comprehensible Input (Elementary)

January 21, 4:30pm - SIOP Seminar: Comprehensible Input (Secondary)

All sessions are listed for enrollment in MyLearningPlan unless noted.