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Academic Language in Diverse Classrooms: Definitions and Contexts

By: Margo Gottlieb, Gisela Ernst-Slavit

Foreword by Jeff Zwiers

This companion volume to Margo Gottlieb and Gisela Ernst-Slavit’s definitive six-book series on academic language provides a go-to reference of key concepts and effective practices.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781452234786
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2014
  • Page Count: 256
  • Publication date: April 22, 2014

Price: $39.95



Ensure your school speaks the language of success!

With the rigorous content of College and Career Readiness standards, academic language use has moved to the forefront of educational priorities. School leaders and teachers must ensure that academic language becomes the focus of new curricula, instruction, and assessment, with special attention to linguistically and culturally diverse students.

The author’s six-book series on academic language is already the definitive resource on the topic. This companion volume provides a concise, thorough overview of the key research concepts and effective practices that underlie the series. Including:

  • Definitions and examples of the dimensions of academic language.
  • A step-by-step template to incorporate academic language use into plans for student learning.
  • Graphic models that illustrate the construct of academic language and its classroom application.

Language is the most fundamental building block of education. Be sure your school is as strong as it can be with this indispensable book.

"This book brings language learning in the classroom alive! 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.”
—Margaret Heritage, Assistant Director for Professional Development
National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA

Key features

(1) Examines the evolving theory behind academic language.

(2) Includes graphic models that to explain and clarify the construct of academic language

(3) Presents definitions and examples of each of the components of academic language.

(4) Features a step-by-step template for teachers who wish to incorporate academic language into their planning for student learning.



Margo Gottlieb photo

Margo Gottlieb

Margo Gottlieb, a staunch advocate for multilingual learners and their teachers, has always envisioned multilingualism as a cornerstone of education. As co-founder and lead developer of WIDA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Margo has been a language teacher, coordinator, bilingual facilitator, director of assessment and evaluation, and an international advisor. Having presented and keynoted across the United States and in 25 countries, she has worked with universities, organizations, governments, states, school districts, and schools in co-constructing linguistic and culturally sustainable educational policy and practice. Margo has been an invited blogger and speaker for virtual seminars, webinars, podcasts, book chats, and videos; in addition, she has enjoyed reviewing books, journal articles, policy papers, and grants.

Over the years, Margo’s scholarship has focused on co-designing language development standards frameworks- for WIDA, TESOL International Association, Guam, and American Samoa, reconceptualizing classroom assessment, and co-constructing curricular frameworks for multilingual learners. Margo has been appointed to national and state expert advisory boards and has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Chile, appointed to the U.S. Department of Education’s Inaugural National Technical Advisory Council, and was honored by TESOL International Association for her significant contribution to the TESOL profession.

Holding a Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis, Evaluation Research and Program Design, Margo has published extensively, having authored, co-authored, or co-edited over 100 publications including monographs, guides, manuals, white papers, technical reports, articles, 30+ chapters, encyclopedia entries, and 20 books. She is proud to add this 3rd edition of her best-selling book to her Corwin compendium and fulfilling her long-time goal of tackling assessment through the lens of multilingual learners in Assessment in Multiple Languages: A Handbook for School and District Leaders (2022) and its companion, Classroom Assessment in Multiple Languages: A Handbook for Teachers (2021).

Gisela Ernst-Slavit photo

Gisela Ernst-Slavit

Gisela Ernst-Slavit, PhD, is a Professor in the College of Education at Washington State University Vancouver. She investigates language teacher education in culturally and linguistically diverse settings using ethnographic and sociolinguistic perspectives. In addition to other publications, she is co-author of Access to Academics: Planning Instruction for K-12 Classrooms with ELLs (Pearson, 2010), From Paper to Practice: Using the TESOL’s English Language Proficiency Standards in PreK-12 Classrooms (TESOL, 2009), and TESOL PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards (TESOL, 2006). Dr. Ernst-Slavit, a native from Peru, has given numerous presentations in the United States and Canada as well as in Japan, Pakistan, Peru, Spain, Thailand, and The Netherlands.
Table of Contents

Table of Contents




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






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