Holistic Academic Language and Literacy Orientation

Teach multidimensional uses of language explicitly, across all content areas ensuring real-world applicability of concepts and skills learned.

Academic language goals are met when the teacher extends learning beyond vocabulary skills to include discourse competence that requires linguistic knowledge―knowing how to act, talk, interpret, and think according to the particular cultural or social group (Gutiérrez, 1995). Students’ application of language in real-world situations increases their use of language in functional and communicative ways that vary according to context (Schleppegrell, 2004).

Using language in multidimensional ways, including speaking and writing, encourages students to use their everyday forms of language as a means of understanding the language of texts (i.e. the use of popular culture such as media to better comprehend texts)(Bailey & Heritage, 2008).

Disciplinary literacy involves written and spoken expression of complex ideas and concepts that are embedded in the context of a subject essential for learning the core curricula making use of the multiple literacies that students bring to the teaching-learning process (Gee, 2007 Gibbons, 2009; 2002).

Indicators of Holistic Academic Language and literacy Orientation

The educator:

  1. knows the language of the classroom and texts, for example, use of content-based vocabulary, language forms and conventions, and language complexity;
  2. identifies and understands the functions of academic language and disciplinary literacy and how to use it to expand students’ social and linguistic capital;
  3. understands that discourse (ways of communicating oral or spoken language) is a social practice and varies across contexts and groups;
  4. recognizes that the students’ home and community experiences influence their literacy and language development and uses in instruction, and
  5. encourages students to develop academic language in their first and second language strengthening their bilingualism and biliteracy.