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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 is the language needed by students to understand and communicate in the academic disciplines.  Academic language includes such things as specialized vocabulary, conventional text structures within a field (e.g., essays, lab reports) and other language-related activities typical of classrooms, (e.g., expressing disagreement, discussing an issue, asking for clarification).  Academic language includes both productive and receptive modalities.

(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.

Using the footnote feature I was able to identify many more errors than the grammar checker.  For example, using the footnote feature I was able to identify the word "taxis" being used instead of the word "taxes."  The correct word was taxes, however grammar checker simply put a period at the end of "taxis." Similarly, using the footnote feature I was able to detect an error that used "singers" instead of "signers."  The grammar checker was unable to detect this error. Similarly, another error that was caught using footnotes occurred where the document used the word "onions" instead of "unions." 

I would encourage my students to use a grammar checker as the first option in editing their paper because it is a quick and fairly efficient way of checking for simple/obvious mistakes.  I would also encourage them to follow up the grammar checker with their own proofreading to catch any additional mistakes that may have been missed.  

The grammar checker is good for common mistakes as well as misspelled words, however it is unable to distinguish words that may be misused or are homophones.  This, I feel is the greatest disadvantage because grammar checker will leave a misused word  or a homophone alone as long as it is spelled correctly. 

(3) Analysis of your textbook

Readability is a measure of the comprehensibility or understandability of written text. There are many methods 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.

 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).

The text appears to be too basic for the grade level that I will be teaching.  This text book is designed for 12th grade students, however the Flesch-Kincaid grade level check shows that it is at a 2nd grade reading level.  The only inference I can make from this rating, is the selection that I chose just happened to be too basic.  In order to check this, I would make another random OCR check on another 3 paragraphs and compare those to the one that is shown here.  That might glean a better result.  

(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.

Using a thesaurus, paraphrase the preamble of the Constitution. Include at least ten logical substitutions for the original words. You may use the built-in thesaurus (Tools/Language/Thesaurus) in Word or internet resources such as Merriam Webster's Dictionary & Thesaurus, or Roget's Thesaurus.

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.

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

We the populace of the United States, in Order to shape a more perfect Union, institute Justice, cover domestic Tranquility, give for the common defense, endorse the general Welfare, and make safe the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do proclaim and create this Constitution for the United States of America.

Using the example above, one can plainly see that there are multiple words that can be used to convey any type of message.  The English language has a very rich and diverse vocabulary with many words that have virtually the same meaning.  A thesaurus is a great way to teach word relationships in the English language because students can visualize the words and practice substituting them in their own writings, reinforcing the learning process and hopefully leading to a greater retention of the learned vocabulary.  

(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


to steer,direct

act as head, chief

an agreement

farmer, settlements

dictator (one whose word is law)
diction (enunciation)
edict (a formal pronouncement or command.)
dictum (an authoritative, often formal pronouncement),

constituencies, constitutive, constitutionally, constitute, constitutively

governor,governmental,  governorship, governance,   governing

preside, presidential, presidio, presider, presidiary

convention, convent, conventual, conventicler, conventionality

colonize, colonial, colonization, colonel, colonnaded

 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.

Congates can be used to master English because students can see the similarities between words which will give them more confidence in using a new language.  As we can see from the chart, Spanish and English are very similar and once students recognize the similarities they will have a greater knowledge base than they realized.  

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.

Adolfo - Spanish version of Adolf.  Means "noble wolf". 

Dario - Spanish version of Darius.  Means "to possess". 

Claudia - Derived from the word Claudius.  Means "lame, crippled". 

Fabio - Derived from the latin Fabius.  Comes from the latin faba "bean". 

Cornelio - Spanish form of the name Cornelius. Comes from the latin "horn". 

 Contribute to the class glossary (select 514 tab)

(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.

Translation Document : The potential problems with translating documents like this is more often than not the translation is only in literal terms and may possibly miss the true meaning of what is trying to be communicated.  For example, phrases or sayings may not be translated properly and therefore the true meaning of these phrases are lost.  

Translate a foreign language text-rich website into English. Discuss the values and limitations of such translation resources.

Contribute to cognate glossary (select 514 tab)

(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 ERIC, Scholar,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.

· Meta Study in Word Processing