There are four aspects to academic language:  vocabulary, language functions, syntax and discourse.  Good teachers encourage the practice of all four. 

  • Vocabulary – Ensure that your students use the academic vocabulary relevant to the content and strategies you are teaching.  
  • Language functions – Plan for and provide opportunities for students to explain, analyze or compare. Encourage students to use the language function you have identified as key to the lesson.
  • Syntax – Provide opportunities for students to discuss connections between literature, movies, the world and their own writing. This will lead to opportunities for students to improve their command of syntax – the rules of written and spoken language.
  • Discourse – Encourage discussion, feedback and collaboration amongst your students.  Help them use language appropriate for the content.

Remember, to best encourage use of academic language amongst your students, you must model how to use academic language.  Don’t just tell students to use academic language – show them how.