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5-Academic Language

(1) Academic Language

Student teachers must complete the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT) to receive credit for student teaching earn and their California Teaching Credentials. Review the Teaching Handbook in your discipline, looking specifically for the concept of "Academic Language". You may wish to review academic language resources for the sciences.

  • Define "academic language" for your discipline. List and explain the features of academic language students should master to succeed in the classes you teach.

Academic Language for Spanish is extremely important. There is what is called a Standard Spanish language that doesn't include demographically specific terminology. Some of the academic language for Spanish can be found in its conjugations, rules, spelling changes, spoken accents, regional exception, and generational changes. There is also a need for cultural understanding when studying another language since more than one cultural dominates the Spanish language. 

(2) Editing

Research indicates that students edit and revise more when writing on a computer than when writing by hand.

  • Use the footnote feature to identify all of the mistakes you can find in this document without the aid of a grammar checker, and repeat with the aid of a grammar checker.
  • What kinds of errors are generally not detected by the software? Give examples. Would you encourage your students to use a grammar/style checker? If so, explain how it might be best employed. If not, explain why not.

Errors that are not detected by a spell checker or a grammar checker are words that make sense in English, but not necessarily in the sentence. For example, if "I want to go too the store" is written, it is possible that the spell/grammar checker will not pick that up, since "to" is the correct word for the sentence. I would let me students know that words that are spelled incorrectly (in the correct grammar use) will most likely be picked up by the spell checker, so yes, please spell check your work as you go or after you finish. I would also let my students know that they must re-read their work to check that the right usage of the word is in the sentence. Since our brain aren't perfect, I would suggest that students as a family member or a teacher to proofread their work as well. Two heads are better than one. 

(3) Analysis of your textbook

Readability is a measure of the comprehensibility or understandability of written text. There are manymethods and formulas for determining readability and the related reading age. Teachers should be aware of the readability level of their text as well as the reading level of their students.

  • Scan three or more paragraphs from your textbook into a word processor file using OCR software. Perform a document check and readability estimate on the text and include the results in your portfolio. 


Sample Text

  • According to the computer-generated readability estimates, does this text appear to be appropriate for your students? Explain. (Note: In some programs, document analysis appears at the end of a grammar check).

Yes. Although it is constructed of 33% passive sentences, it is still at a 12th grade level. It is said that passive sentences are weak in an article, writing, etc., but this is not necessarily true since the topic of the article will always be the deciding factor. For example, science topics and scientific findings tend to use a more passive voice structure in their writing. 

(4) Equations

Many teachers have the need to incorporate equations into handouts, tests and notes. Equation editors allow you to make equations and then export them as graphics to word processors.

  • Use an equation editor to create two or more complex equations from your discipline. If your discipline does not use many equations, you may select from the following list.

(5) Word Relationships

English dictionaries contain more than 250,000 words, while Spanish dictionaries contain approximately 100,000 words, and most other languages have far fewer. English has an extensive vocabulary and many synonyms. This can cause difficulties for English learners. An electronic thesaurus may be used to help students understand the complex relationship within the English lexicon.

Preamble: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Introduction: We the People of the United States, in Order to arrange a more flawless Coalition, establish Fairness, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the shared defense, promote the general Welfare, and protect the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do decree and create this Constitution on behalf of the United States of America.

  • Using an example, illustrate how the thesaurus can be used to teach word relationships in the English language.

A thesaurus can be extremely helpful in teaching word relationship such as noun and verb tone differences. For example:

PROgress          proGRESS 

OBject          obJECT 

INcrease          inCREASE 

CONtract          conTRACT 

CONduct          conDUCT 

PROject          proJECT 

PERmit          perMIT 

PROduce          proDUCE 

REcord          reCORD 

SURvey          surVEY 

These are some examples of words that are spelled the same, but take on different meanings. When a student looks in the thesaurus for synonyms, they will be able to find a word that means the same thing and be able to see whether the other words are nouns or verbs. This will help them not to get confused. The emphasis on the last syllable is the verb in all of these examples, which is a great observation for the students to make. 

(6) Mastering Content Vocabulary

Although modern English has the largest and most complex lexicon of any language in history, the meanings of many words can be determined if one knows the common prefixes, suffixes and root words. Knowledge of such morphemes is particularly useful for English learners who face the formidable challenge of mastering English vocabulary, with all of its many nuances. According to Richard E. Hodges of the University of Puget Sound ("Improving Spelling and Vocabulary in the Secondary School; 1982, p 30) ,“If you were to examine the 20,000 most used English words, you would find that about 5,000 of them contain prefixes and that 82 percent (about 4,100) of those words use one of only fourteen different prefixes out of all the available prefixes in the language.” Thus, if students master these prefixes, they will know clues to the meanings of thousands of words."

ab- (away from)
be- (on all sides, overly)
de- (reversal, undoing, downward)
dis-, dif- (not, reversal)
ex- (out of, former)
pre- (before)
re- (again, restore)
un- (do the opposite of)
ad- (to, toward)
com-, con-, co- (with, together)
en-, em- (in, into, to cover or contain)
in- (into, not)
pro- (in favor of, before)
sub- (under, beneath)
  • Identify five words that are commonly used in your subject. Identify one or more prefixes, suffixes or roots from each. Use an online dictionary to identify 5 or more other words in the English language that use these morphemes as per the example. When searching, you will need to use standard wildcards: *=multiple characters; ?=single character.
Five or more related words that share this root
tell, pronounce

dictator (one whose word is law)
diction (enunciation)
edict (a formal pronouncement or command.)
dictum (an authoritative, often formal pronouncement),
dictate (to say or read aloud to be recorded or written by another)

antemano                 ante-                      before                    antemano (beforehand)
                                                                                              anteayer (before yesterday)
                                                                                              antebrazo (forearm)    
                                                                                              anteponer (put before something else)
                                                                                              anteanoche (the night before)       

  • English has acquired words from many languages as seen in this story. It is helpful to show students these foreign words and cognates so they can better understand the historical relationship between English and other languages and look for cognates when learning new terms. Translate 5 or more words from your discipline into each of four languages using Logos or other translation resources. Identify cognates and explain how you can use them to help students master English. 

    Animal: (Spanish and English Cognate) Tier-German, Animale-Italian, Hewan-Indonesian, Animal-Latin, Djur-
    Almacén: Store-English, Limbak Ang-Filipino, Uchovávejte-Czech, Uchovávajte-Slovak (The same as Czech),     

    Realizar: (English false Cognate-Doesn't mean to Realize, but rather to Carry Out) Uitvoeren-Dutch, Eseguire-
                   Italian, Lakukan-Malay, Ausführen-German, Effectuer-French

    Organismo: English to Spanish- ism to ismo. Organism-English, Organisme-Catalán, Axencia-Galician, 代理店- 
                      Japanese, Ügynökség-Hungarian, Agentia-Latin

  • One way to interest students in the significance of words is to have them study the meaning of their own names. Identify the meaning of five common first names of students in your class.

ArielMeans "lion of God" in Hebrew. In the Old Testament it is used as another name for the city of Jerusalem.Shakespeare used it as the name of a spirit in his play 'The Tempest' (1611), and one of the moons of Uranus bears this name in his honour. As an English name, it became more common for females in the 1980s, especially after it was used for the title character in the Walt Disney film 'The Little Mermaid' (1989).

ShabnamMeans "dew" in Persian and Urdu.

RanaMeans "an eye-catching object" from Arabic رنا (rana) "to gaze".

GeoffreyFrom a Norman French form of a Germanic name. The second element is Germanic frid"peace", but the first element may be either gawia "territory", walah "stranger" or gisil "hostage". It is possible that two or more names merged into a single form. In the later Middle Ages Geoffrey was further confused with the distinct name Godfrey.

Sara: Means "lady" or "princess" in Hebrew. This is the name of the wife of Abraham in the Old Testament. She became the mother of Isaac at the age of 90. Her name was originally Sarai, but God changed it (see Genesis 17:15). In England, Sarah came into use after the Protestant Reformation.

(7) Communicating with English Learners and their families

Southern California is home to a very diverse population (see diversity of Los Angeles County), many of whom are immigrants from non-English speaking countries. Translation programs can help break down some of the language barriers between teachers, their students, and the families of these students.

  • Use translation resources to translate a simple document from your class into one or more languages spoken by students in your class. Include the English version AND the translated version. Show this to someone who is fluent in English and the language into which you have translated it, and explain any potential problems.
  • Translate a foreign language text-rich website into English. Discuss the values and limitations of such translation resources.

As a foreign language teacher, it is evident to me when a student uses an online translation service to complete an assignment. There are many dead giveaways that help us as teachers realize that it is not the students' work. The values of a translation service are limited to words and possible phrases, but once an essay or larger document is intended for translation, there are various errors. When a student wants to look up a word, I will always suggest a dictionary, never an online translation service. The limitations of the online services are also going to fall into the "grammar" category. When an English word means two things in another language, the online service will basically choose a word since there are two options; but it will not necessarily understand the grammar of the sentence. 

(8) What is the influence of computers on the development of student writing?

Does technology have an influence on the quality and quantity of student writing?

  • Use ERICScholar,and/ or other reputable resources to research the influence of computer technologies on the development of student writing skills. Each student in the class will review three different studies as per the instructor's directions. Share your results with the class using an online survey. Summarize the research in 2 or 3 paragraphs.

   See Attached Items Below- Copy of Meta-Study of Word Processing Writing
Sara Gallardo-Candia,
Nov 6, 2012, 7:53 PM
Sara Gallardo-Candia,
Dec 5, 2012, 9:19 PM
Sara Gallardo-Candia,
Nov 6, 2012, 7:58 PM