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Academic Language and Language Learners by: Dr.

Robin
Scarcella

In this resource, Dr. Robin Scarcella provides a detailed synopsis


of academic language and what instructional procedures will benefit
and assist in supporting English language learners to learn and adapt
to the English language. Dr. Robin Scarcella is the Director of the
Program in academic language and ESL at the University of California
Irvine campus. She provides an essential amount of information that
will positively enhance all educators experiences. This article is in a
dialogue form where it is written in a manner where questions are
asked about academic languages and responses are given to support
educators in the field of working with ELLs.
Dr. Robin Scarcella defines academic language as, a language
used in school content. Its the language of text. Its a language of
prestige and power in the United States. And those who have acquired
the academic language tend to go on and become very successful in
academic settings. I found this view on academic language to be
powerful and true. The prominence that academic language has on
students lives is very influential, but it tends to deter students from
viewing the language positively, which is why we must create effective
methods to teach and implement the language effectively.
The difficulty that students have is distinguishing the difference
between social appropriate language and academic language. Dr.

Robin Scarcella describes an activity that I believe would positively


enhance the English language learners use and understanding for the
language. The activity involves the skill of comparing and contrasting
two written works where students define the differences and
similarities between both works and how we can see and notice the
informal language and how it uses consistent and repetition, while also
seeing that the use of academic lanaguge has a variety of higher level
vocabulary terms. Using this task will challenge students to also
acknowledge how avoiding the use of slang and informal language will
positively motivate students to use academic and higher level
vocabulary terms in their writing and speaking opportunities.
Dr. Robin Scarcella states, Its very important that teachers
scaffold students development of oral academic languageteachers
can use a variety of activities to scaffold their production of academic
language. The stress of teaching academic language has spread into
all grade levels where students are encouraged to use and incorporate
sophisticated language into their writing and speaking skills. Although
all grades must be instructed to use and learn the use of academic
language, the instruction must be grade appropriate while also
focusing on the each childs proficiency level.
As the article continues on, there are educators who also shared
their experiences when teaching and working with their children on
academic language and how it can impact each childs success with

the language. The teacher expressed that she felt many students rush
through the reading without comprehending the content as much as it
is necessary in order to succeed. Dr. Robin Scarcella suggests that
encouraging students to read specific texts, assigning students the
task to summarize what they have read is a great way for the students
to incorporate academic knowledge into their oral description of what
the text was about. This will also build the students fluency and
confidence in using the English language.
Dr. Robin Scarcella made a very important claim that I found to
be very strong and powerful, especially for educators. She stated, We
have a responsibility to our students, to all of our students, no matter
when they enter school, no matter what their educational backgrounds
are, to teach academic language. We have some excellent approaches
and especially some good curricula materials available to provide
students with the intensive English language instruction that they need
at secondary levels. The knowledge of academic language spreads
and develops as the children mature, grow, and adapt to the standards
in the content and curriculum that they will be instructed. As
educators, we have a high responsibility for ensuring we provide the
students with multiple opportunities to succeed in using the academic
vocabulary and langauge effectively.