Investigating Best Strategies for Academic VocabularyVirginia Dept. of Education
Title III Statewide Consortium Conference
Audrey Cohan, Ed.D. Molloy College
Rockville Centre, NY
Audrey_Cohan Created with Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld
In todays session we will:
Discover new aspects of academic language to
meet the needs of ELLs;
Consider ways to create multiple opportunities for
students to use academic language;
Learn strategies for the word, sentence, and
What do teachers need to work effectively with ELLs? (Rojas, 2001)
Strategies and techniques
Quick Write or Quick Draw
Teaching academic language to my students is like __________________________________ because__________________________________________________________.
How to use sentence starters?
Definitions of AL offered by several educational researchers:
...the language that is used by teachers and students for the purpose of acquiring new knowledge and skills...imparting new information, describing abstract ideas, and developing students conceptual understandings (Chamot & OMalley, 1994, p. 40).
...word knowledge that makes it possible for students to engage with, produce, and talk about texts that are valued in school (Flynt & Brozo, 2008, p. 500).
Academic English is the language of the classroom, of academic disciplines (science, history, literary analysis) of texts and literature, and of extended, reasoned discourse. It is more abstract and decontextualized than conversational English (Gersten, Baker, Shanahan, Linan-Thompson, Collins, & Scarcella, 2007, p. 16).
Academic language is the set of words, grammar, and organizational strategies used to describe complex ideas, higher-order thinking processes, and abstract concepts (Zwiers, 2008, p. 20).
Features of Academic Language
General, specific, transitional, and technical
Words and phrases with multiple meanings
Formulaic and idiomatic expressions
Collocations, nuances, and shades of meaning
Types and varieties of grammatical structures
Conventions, mechanics, and fluency
Match of language forms to purpose/perspective
Amount of speech/written text
Structure of speech/written text
Density of speech/written text
Organization and cohesion of ideas (thinking)
Variety of sentences and sentence types
Framing the Teaching of Academic Language
Which words do I teach?
Common every day
words that many
Words that appear in a single
context, often domain-
that often needs to be
High-utility words that occur in many
contexts, may have multiple meanings, and
are used to process Information. The
power behind students curricular
Teaching VocabularyEssential Criteria
Importance and Utility
Read It, Say It, Write It
What they dont understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when youre eleven, youre also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one.(Cisneros, Sandra. Eleven. Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. New York: Random House, 1991. CCSS Appendix B, p. 87).
Read It, Say It, Write It
Students can use the following sentence frame borrowed from Cisneros to discuss their own experiences of being an adolescent, the member of a sports team, or any other challenges they face:
What they dont understand about ____________________ and what they never tell you is that ____________________.
A series of three parallel words, phrases, or clauses.
Words such as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Phrases such as "government of the people, by the people, for the people."
If there is anyone out there  who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible;  who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time;  who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
The Magic of ThreeThree nouns (or adjective-noun combinations):
and ____________________________ swam by us in the
I was ____________________, _____________________,
and ________________________________ in the park.
Three parallel phrases:
At school, its important to
Text Mark Ups
= Confirmed my thinking
+ Added to my thinking
Changed my thinking
Functions Acknowldeging ideas:
My idea is similar to _____
I agree/disagree with ______ because
My response to _______ builds upon _______
As it has been established by others, _____________
As previously mentioned, ____________
The main points expressed in these poems are ______
The significance of ________ is ____________
The notion of _______ can be expressed as _______
From my perspective, what these poems mean is _____
Questions? Final Thoughts?