It is crucial for teachers of language and literacy to understand the development of academic language.
Academic language refers to the language that is used for schooling. It is the language a learner needs to use effectively in order to progress successfully through school. Academic language is different to the everyday language which learners use on the playground, and it is described as decontextualized, because there is no shared social context that learners can rely on to figure out the meaning of texts.
Recent research (https://sajce.co.za/index.php/sajce/article/view/555) indicates that pre-service teachers’ academic language does not improve at university – likely because they did not learn academic language during their schooling years.I am of the view that if primary school teacher education students do not learn academic language in school, or in university, they themselves will become teachers who do not know how to teach academic language to their learners.
Thus, it is extremely important for primary school teachers to explicitly teach academic language to their learners.
As a response to the importance of teachers knowing how to teach academic language, a poster has been created which teachers can use in their classrooms as a reference when teaching academic language.
The poster includes: 1) things to keep in mind when teaching academic language; 2) features of academic language and 3) how academic language can be improved in the classroom.
We hope that this poster would assist teachers in understanding some of the important features of academic language as well as ways in which they can develop the academic language of the learners in their classroom.
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