Self-Talk Thinking & Knowing
The Spectrum of Academic Language
knowing conversational language assists students in learning academic language, we must teach English learners (and other students, including native speakers) the “vocabulary, more complex sentence structures, and rhetorical forms not typically encountered in nonacademic settings” (Goldenberg, 2008, p. 13).
How Does Academic Language Fit into the SIOP® Model?
As you know, the SIOP® Model has a dual purpose: to systematically and consistently teach both content and language in every lesson. Once again, sometimes English- language arts teachers feel that “This is what we always do, so why do we need a demar- cation between content and language?” The simple answer to this question is that although content and language objectives help focus the teacher throughout a lesson, these objectives also (perhaps even more importantly) focus students on what they are supposed to know and be able to do during and after each lesson as related to both content knowledge and language development.
English learners especially need to understand that they should be concentrating not only on acquiring content (such as learning the difference between a simile and a metaphor) but also on learning how to correctly use figurative language in written and spoken English. You might be thinking, “Well, of course! That’s what teaching English, reading, writing, grammar, and spelling is all about!” And, to a degree, you’re right. But because we also have specific content in our field (such as teaching roots, base words, prefixes, affixes, and figurative language), we must provide opportunities for English learners (and other students) to develop their English proficiency by using and producing language through reading, writing, listening, and speaking. And, that’s what the SIOP® Model is all about.
A critical aspect of academic language is academic vocabulary. Within the SIOP® Model, we refer to academic vocabulary as having three elements (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2008, p. 59). These include:
1. Content Words. These are key vocabulary words, terms, and concepts associated with a particular topic. Key vocabulary can come from literature and expository texts (such as characte , setting, rising action, conflict, denouement, falling action, resolu- tion, cause and effect, main idea, supporting details, generalization); from writing analysis (such as imagery, sentence structure, writing process, thesis statement,
/ Academic Language of the English-Language Arts