Reflect on the key ideas
Developing shared activities and ways to cooperate
Today it is widely understood that literacy instruction is a responsibility that should be shared by teachers in all disciplines. However, it is inevitable that language specialists have a more detailed insight into language issues and better access to linguistic resources. Therefore, language experts have a special role to play.
Watch a short video of an interview with Professor Bernd Rüschoff from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. The questions asked in the interview are:
- How would you diversify language education to encourage the use and awareness of minority languages and cultures?
- What do you think might be the role of the "mother tongue" teacher in supporting plurilingualism?
- How do you think cooperation between teachers of different subjects could be enhanced in schools?
- How would you comment on Professor Rüschoff's answers?
- What does he mean by sensitivy towards languages and awareness of languages? How could that be achieved?
Consider the school culture in your country and discuss the following issues:
- What elements encourage teachers to collaborate and which ones prevent them from doing so?
- What is needed to develop the pedagogical culture so that more collaborative practices are taken up?
If possible, discuss these questions with students of other subjects to see if you share similar viewpoints.
Academic language is a challenge to all learners
Traditionally, it has been taken for granted that students simply learn to use academic language successfully, but that assumption has proved to be questionable. Academic language is also challenging for native speakers of the language of schooling. Therefore, to talk about language and the support we plan and arrange for second language learners is highly beneficial for native speakers too.
The key benefit of collaboration across school subjects is that language focus benefits all learners. Contribution from all teachers is needed: subject teachers are experts in their fields and they are masters of the language used within their disciplines. However, language experts are needed to provide an outline of the overall picture:
- How does the language use differ in different subjects?
- What makes academic language challenging?
- What kind of identity work is involved in developing academic skills in different subjects?
- Could language knowledge taught in the language of schooling classroom be related to academic literacies and enable students to compare, analyse and identify different characteristics of language use?
- How can language skills be transferred from one subject to another?
Two ECML projects focus on academic language skills and the integration of content and language learning. Read more about them:
- Language descriptors for migrant and minority learners' success in compulsory education
- Literacies through Content and Language Integrated Learning: effective learning across subjects and languages
5 principles for teaching content to language learners
Effective academic language instruction has been defined and researched by many scholars. Dr. Jim Cummins is one of the leading authorities in the field. He has identified three key pillars of effective academic language instruction for English language learners: activate prior knowledge, access content and extend language. Based on these pillars, Pearson has created five principles for teaching content to language learners. Learn more about them here.
Explore the principles and discuss them in groups
- What do the principles mean with regard to the language of schooling classroom when teaching various content included in the curriculum?
- What do the principles mean with regard to collaboration across subjects? How could the framework be used as a basis for structuring cooperation between teachers and cross-disciplinary projects?
- How would the students in our example (see learner profiles) benefit from these principles?
If possible, develop, put into use and report on an exercise involving teachers/ student teachers of another subject.