ERIC Number: ED389212
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995
Conceptualizing Academic Language. Research Report: 15.
Solomon, Jeff; Rhodes, Nancy C.
The purpose of this report is to explore academic language on a broader discourse-level of analysis. Examining three linguistic exchanges from a bilingual elementary school, the report discusses how academic tasks influence academic language discourse styles (registers) in fifth-grade class lessons. Two dominant theories are drawn from the literature: (1) that academic language is a compilation of unique language functions and structures that are difficult for language minority students to master; and (2) that in a dichotomy between academic language and conversational language, the former provides fewer contextual clues. An alternative model views academic language as register, adjusted in lexical and syntactic features according to context. The study presented here examined classroom interaction in two fifth grade bilingual classes taught in English. Three samples of classroom discussion are analyzed, each revolving around a discrete academic task. It is concluded that the academic language registers used are shaped by the particular academic tasks. A survey of 132 English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teachers elicited definitions, descriptions, and examples of academic language. Results indicate significant conceptual differences between teachers and the research literature concerning academic language, suggesting a need for communication between teachers and researchers on this topic, and further research. (MSE)
Descriptors: Bilingual Students, Class Activities, Classroom Communication, Discourse Analysis, English for Academic Purposes, English (Second Language), Grade 5, Intermediate Grades, Language Research, Language Role, Language Usage, Linguistic Theory
NCRCDSLL, 1118 22nd Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20037.
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning, Santa Cruz, CA.