In the first part of the article, I briefly survey the major theoretical frameworks proposed and empirical approaches adopted in recent research on academic language. While mastery of academic language is certainly important for academic success, this construct does not fully encompass the range of modalities through which students participate in the learning of school subjects. Adopting a sociocultural perspective on learning, I propose that academic communication better captures the multi-modal dynamics of learning and teaching as it occurs in classrooms. Working together in joint activities, such as problem solving, developing ideas, and communicating understanding, involves material action, artifacts, speech and writing, and other semiotic tools such as graphs, diagrams, and images. While English learners benefit from extra linguistic scaffolding, it is particularly important for them to engage in activities that draw on non-linguistic forms of communication to complement the meanings made by language.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language