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Proposing a Knowledge Base for Teaching Academic Content to English Language Learners: Disciplinary Linguistic Knowledge


by Sultan Turkan, Luciana C. De Oliveira, Okhee Lee & Geoffrey Phelps - 2014

Background/Context: The current research on teacher knowledge and teacher accountability falls short on information about what teacher knowledge base could guide preparation and accountability of the mainstream teachers for meeting the academic needs of English language learners (ELLs). Most recently, research on specialized knowledge for teaching has offered ways to understand the tasks of teaching that constitute the work of teaching a subject and a set of content-based problems. However, in this paper, we have argued that this domain does not address whether or not teaching academic content to ELLs involves any specialized knowledge for teaching. We sought to understand what specialized knowledge base for teaching, if any, is included in the work of teaching content to special student populations such as ELLs. In this exploration, we drew on the main perspectives from two lines of scholarship: Systemic Functional Linguistics and academic language.

Purpose: Grounding the theoretical argument based on these two areas of research, we propose the teachers’ use of Disciplinary Linguistic Knowledge (DLK) for academic discourse of a discipline or content area. DLK is proposed as the knowledge base needed to facilitate ELLs’ understanding of oral and written discourse within a discipline and their accurate use of language to engage them in the disciplinary discourse.

Findings/Results: DLK refers to teachers’ knowledge of a particular disciplinary discourse and involves knowledge for (a) identifying linguistic features of the disciplinary discourse and (b) modeling for ELLs how to communicate meaning in the discipline and engaging them in using the language of the discipline orally or in writing. We offer examples illustrating how teachers’ knowledge of Disciplinary Linguistic Knowledge might manifest itself when teachers engage in the work of teaching content to ELLs.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The use of DLK as a specialized knowledge base for teaching content to ELLs might help to further specify the role of teachers’ knowledge of students within the larger research area of content knowledge for teaching. Also, operationalizing DLK as an assessment construct could address the need for next generation teacher assessments that aim to measure teachers’ knowledge base for teaching content to ELLs.

Does teaching academic content to English language learners (ELLs) involve any specialized knowledge for teaching? The current teacher-accountability climate makes this a critical question as the number of ELLs is increasing in U.S. elementary and secondary schools (Valdés & Castellon, 2010), and mainstream teachers are not adequately prepared to teach content to ELLs (Barron & Menken, 2002; Kindler, 2002; Waxman & Tellez, 2002). There is a gap between the demands of teaching ELLs and the supply of mainstream teachers who are adequately prepared to teach ELLs. As the demand for prepared teachers increases, many, if not most, mainstream teachers will need to develop the knowledge and skills needed to teach in classrooms with increasingly diverse populations of students. How should the teacher education or certification programs respond to this need?


Current research on teacher knowledge for teaching does not address specifically what is required to teach content to special student populations such as ELLs. The trajectory of research about a teacher knowledge base began with efforts to identify generic knowledge, and then turned to what Shulman (1986) originally introduced as pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), which took the subject matter as a basis for pedagogical knowledge. Shulman (1987) referred to PCK as the “special amalgam of content and pedagogy that is uniquely the province of teachers, their own special form of professional understanding” (p. 8). He argued that the wisdom of practice was the missing paradigm in our understanding of the profession of teaching and that PCK was the knowledge base for teaching. PCK provided the language for research on the knowledge base for teaching and drove the investigations on “how teachers need to know the subject they teach” (Phelps & Schilling, 2004, p. 3). Further, PCK enabled the view that knowledge of content is different from the specialized knowledge needed to teach content. But an additional question remains: whether PCK still might not encompass all of the specialized knowledge in teaching (Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008). Ball, Thames, and Phelps (2008) noted that knowledge of content, knowledge of teaching, and knowledge of students interact with teachers’ specialized knowledge for teaching a particular content area. The authors argued that content knowledge for teaching (CKT) is distinct from common content knowledge, say in mathematics, as it is embedded in the specialized knowledge unique to teaching mathematics. To further specify the specialized knowledge for teaching, extensive research has been pursued to understand and measure knowledge needed to effectively engage in the critical tasks of teaching content in areas like mathematics (Ball, 1999; Ball, Hill, & Bass, 2005) and ELA (Phelps & Schilling, 2004). The CKT work has been built on the argument that teachers draw on their content knowledge for teaching to carry out the tasks that constitute the work of teaching a subject and a set of content-based problems (Hill, Schilling, & Ball, 2004; Phelps, 2009). However, this body of work does not elucidate: What constitutes knowledge for teaching in consideration of the special student populations such as ELLs? What specialized knowledge base for teaching, if any, is included in the work of teaching content to special student populations such as ELLs? The definition of knowledge base is an inclusive notion; Cochran-Smith and Lytle (1999) involve such basic domains of knowledge about teaching as “content or subject matter knowledge as well as knowledge about the disciplinary foundations of education, human development and learners, classroom organization, pedagogy, assessment, the social and cultural contexts of teaching and schooling, and knowledge of teaching as a profession” (p. 254). With that definition in mind, if teaching academic content to ELLs requires or involves any specialized knowledge base, what domains of knowledge about teaching are needed for teaching content to ELLs? This paper pursues these questions as part of an unfolding program of research that seeks to conceptualize and explore a variety of uses for such specialized knowledge for teaching content to ELLs. We propose that this knowledge base be coined as Disciplinary Linguistic Knowledge (DLK), referring to teachers’ knowledge of academic discourse characteristics distinct to a particular discipline.


Over the past few decades, ELLs have increasingly been placed into regular classroom settings (Lucas, Villegas, & Freedson-Gonzalez, 2008). ELLs may come to U.S. schools with varying levels of first or native language (L1) proficiency, different degrees of formal educational experience, and a distinct understanding of what school and its related routines and behaviors entail (Short & Fitzimmons, 2007). By far, the largest number of ELLs is born in the United States, and there is a great deal of diversity in their levels of academic and social English language proficiency. When more and more ELLs with diverse backgrounds are included in traditionally monolingual English settings, the flow of everyday instructional practices can change and teachers may perceive the presence of ELLs as disruptive to normal classroom dynamics (Cho & Reich, 2008; Reeves, 2006; Walker, Shafer, & Iiams, 2004; Youngs & Youngs, 2001). Some researchers note a change of instructional practices as an “interruption” to the classroom flow when the communication breaks down or causes obstacles between English-speaking teachers and ELLs (Harklau, 2000.


ELLs with unique learning needs are found in virtually all schools, yet most of these schools have an insufficient supply of educators trained and qualified to teach ELLs (Tellez & Waxman, 2006). Essentially, instructional changes are required of teachers who are traditionally not prepared to work with these students (Arkoudis & Davison, 2002; . Further, the way we have tried to meet the needs of ELLs has been to implement separate programs with specialist teachers. This is now shifting as a result of teacher shortages, which lead to a push for mainstreaming ELLs (Harper & de Jong, 2009). Given the policies of teacher supply and schooling, considerable attention has been paid to the need to educate teachers on how to teach culturally and linguistically diverse learners.


Principles and frameworks have been written to inform the practice of teaching ELLs in general teacher education programs (de Jong & Harper, 2008; Lucas et al., 2008; National Council of Teachers of English, 2006). For instance, one acknowledged principle is that all teachers—not just specialist bilingual or English as a second language (ESL) teachers—should be well prepared to effectively teach ELLs (Lucas, 2011; Lucas et al., 2008). Equally accepted is the view that teaching ELLs is not “just good teaching” (de Jong & Harper, 2005, 2008, 2011) and that good teachers acknowledge their roles as language teachers (Brisk, 1998; Gebhard, Willett, Pablo, Caicedo, & Piedra, 2011). Further, Lucas and Villegas (2011) conceptualized a framework for culturally and linguistically responsive teacher education specifying several principles inherent to effective teaching of ELLs. Lucas and Villegas argued that mainstream teachers need to (a) learn about the language and academic backgrounds of the ELLs in their classes, (b) understand and identify the language demands of content for ELLs as they engage in classroom tasks, and (c) scaffold ELL learning using a variety of strategies. Beyond these attempts to inform and guide teacher education, the growing body of empirical and conceptual literature has not been translated into a teacher knowledge base to guide educating all teachers to teach ELLs. Indeed, the essential knowledge and skills that content teachers should have to effectively educate ELLs are unclear (Janzen, 2008).


Given the dire need to define a knowledge base for teaching content to ELLs, our intention in this paper is to propose an analytic framework for theorizing a teacher knowledge base that takes into account the most recent understanding of the role of language in teaching content in the classroom. It is our goal that the knowledge base proposed in this paper moves the field forward by stimulating discussions around defining a solid knowledge base that would eventually make its way into teacher education and professional development programs. It may be useful here to say a few words about what this paper is not intended to do. It is not intended to provide an exhaustive or comprehensive review of the literature on effective teaching of content to ELLs in the content areas (mathematics, science, English language arts, and social studies), in teacher learning for diverse learners, or in linguistically and culturally responsive teaching. It does not intend to address all the needs of the profession in developing teachers who are well-prepared to teach ELLs.


To advance our goal of contributing to the conversation around defining a knowledge base for teaching ELLs, we draw on systemic functional linguistics (SFL) theory and academic language perspectives. These two perspectives have substantially contributed to understanding and identifying the linguistic challenges ELLs are faced with and effective instructional practices to mediate those challenges. Both the academic language literature (Anstrom et al., 2010; Bailey, 2000; Scarcella, 2003; Wong-Fillmore & Snow, 2000) and SFL theory (e.g., Halliday, 1993; Halliday & Hasan, 1989; Schleppegrell, 2004) provide complementary lenses for us to further specify the particular aspects of the proposed knowledge base. An academic language perspective helps to clarify how academic language differs from everyday language. In a similar vein, SFL theory allows us to analyze language in terms of the specific functions it serves and the meanings it helps to convey in a given social context (Halliday, 1994).


Informed by the academic language perspective and SFL theory, we expand Reeves’ (2009) use of the term, linguistic knowledge for teaching, which she uses to refer to the linguistic knowledge that ESOL teachers use to create opportunities for learners to communicate meaning. Our use of the term Disciplinary Linguistic Knowledge differs from Richards’ (2011) definition of disciplinary knowledge in that DLK does not comprehensively account for teachers’ knowledge of “history of language teaching methods, second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, phonology and syntax, discourse analysis, theories of language, critical applied linguistics” (p. 6). In our view, teachers’ knowledge of linguistics for teaching ELLs is discipline-specific and involves disciplinary linguistic knowledge needed to unpack the language demands associated with a particular content area. The unpacking of language demands follows what Wong-Fillmore and Snow (2000, p. 4) have termed “educational linguistics” or the knowledge upon which teachers draw to help ELLs understand and express meaning by providing ELLs with tools to communicate in the language of the particular academic discipline.


THEORETICAL GROUNDING


The body of work on understanding academic language has attracted interest since scholars provided evidence pointing to the positive relationship between ELLs’ understanding and use of academic language and their academic success (Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer, & Rivera, 2006; Snow, Cancini, Gonzalez, & Shriberg, 1989). We bring in two lines of literature to ground theoretical argument for the proposed knowledge base: (a) academic language and (b) systemic functional linguistics (SFL). Academic language, defined as the language of schooling (Bailey & Heritage, 2008; Chamot & O’Malley, 1994; Schleppegrell, 2004), is “the constellation of lexical and grammatical features that characterize particular uses of language (Halliday & Hasan, 1989; Martin, 1992)” (Heritage, Silva, & Pierce, 2007, p. 171). The academic language of the content areas that is specialized and different from the informal or everyday usage is inherent to content learning in the classrooms. Particular uses of academic language depend on the context of use (Schleppegrell, 2001). Since Cummins’ conceptualization of Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) (Cummins, 1980), academic language literature has continued to evolve (Bailey, 2000; Butler, Stevens, & Castellon-Wellington, 1999). Bailey and Butler (2003) built on the differentiation between everyday informal and academic language use and provided evidentiary basis for the existence of the academic language phenomenon. By providing the basis, Bailey and Butler emphasized the need to understand and address language demands in content area classes and assessments.


Most recently, Anstrom et al. (2010) provided a meta-analysis of the literature on academic language. Their analysis proposed that academic language is a complex notion to operationalize, whether for instructional or other purposes, and that academic demands interact with the quality of instructional practices for ELLs. The authors found that effective teachers identify the features of academic English across disciplines, differentiating everyday language from academic language used in academic settings, and envision academic English as more than vocabulary instruction. Also, effective teachers are characterized by their attempts to develop ELLs’ awareness of the features of academic language and to engage ELLs in using the academic language of the disciplines, providing opportunities for ELLs to talk and write the language of a particular discipline. In their synthesis of the literature, the authors cited the framework proposed by Scarcella (2003) as helpful in understanding what specific linguistic features teachers should be able to recognize in order to point out the meaning–form connections in the registers of academic disciplines. Scarcella broadly conceptualized academic register1 as including phonological, lexical, grammatical, sociolinguistic, and discourse components that enable students and teachers to undertake academic tasks such as summarizing, signaling cause and effect, hypothesizing, generalizing, comparing, contrasting, and explaining.


SFL, as the second perspective we draw on, “is a linguistic theory that sees language as a social process that contributes to the realization of different social contexts” (Schleppegrell, 2004, p. 45). As in the academic language literature, SFL highlights developing awareness of the language features used to express meaning (Christie, 1998; Halliday & Hasan, 1989). Gebhard et al. (2011) elaborated on the SFL perspective on language as “a dynamic system of linguistic choices that students learn to use to accomplish a variety of social, academic, and political goals in and out of school” (p. 93). While there are overlapping views between academic English and the SFL perspective, the latter emphasizes more heavily the development of knowledge and talk about language (Halliday, 1993). SFL particularly provides an analytical lens to understanding language as integral to content learning, not separate from, prior to, or subsequent to it. SFL argues for developing students’ deep understandings and “knowledge about when and how to use language (tenor) so that they can make informed choices when speaking/writing (mode) about different topics (field)” (Brisk & Zisselsberger, 2011, p. 114). In doing so, SFL does not prescribe a set of rules or, for the purposes of this paper, components that would characterize the discourse of the academic disciplines (Brisk & Zisselsberger, 2011). SFL argues that there is a strong relationship between linguistic choices made in a context or text and the meaning thus conveyed (Christie & Martin, 1997). Recent SFL literature on teaching content to ELLs informed us that there are variations in the language features used to talk and write the language of science, mathematics, English language arts, and social studies (Schleppegrell, 2001). Meeting these demands presented by the features of the language of the content areas requires knowledge of a range of the linguistic choices represented at the word, sentence, and discourse levels. The SFL perspective elucidates these three levels and specifies that each level entails participants (nouns), processes (verbs), and connectors (conjunctions and other connecting devices) (Fang & Schleppegrell, 2008; Schleppegrel & de Oliveria, 2006).


Moreover, the SFL perspective suggests that the discourse of a specific discipline determines to a large extent the linguistic choices and functions that carry the meanings of the disciplinary content (Schleppegrell, 2001, 2004). Discourse is a notion larger than academic register in that it embodies what members of a social group need to know and how they need to talk and act in a given context to participate appropriately in the context. Academic register narrowly refers to the linguistic choices made to convey meaning in the given texts, talks, and contexts (Brisk & Zisselsberger, 2011; Halliday & Hasan, 1989). According to the SFL theory, the linguistic choices realized in the context of schooling carry three kinds of meanings: ideational, interpersonal, and textual. These meanings co-occur simultaneously because in every text or classroom dialogue “something will be talked about (ideational), social relationships are established or maintained (interpersonal), and a text is being structured (textual)” (Schleppegrell, 2004, p. 48).


In the context of teaching academic content, the larger discipline, referred to as the language of the curriculum as it is displayed in the practice of teaching (Schwab, 1969), will largely determine the discourse characteristics in the given content area. Shulman (1987) viewed Schwab’s characterization of discipline as helpful to understand teachers’ need for deep understanding of the structures of the subject matter. The deep understanding of the content allows the teacher to communicate the subject matter in flexible and multifaceted ways. In other words, the discourse of a specific discipline carries the meanings and forms for the members of that discipline, including teachers, to participate in the disciplinary discourse. Disciplinary discourse, then, could be defined as the ways in which language is used to know a content area, construct knowledge in that area, and to “participate in those ways of knowing” (Schleppegrell, 2007, p. 140). The idea of socialization in a community through the valued use of language dates back to Heath’s seminal work (1983). In the case of academic learning, knowing and engaging in the discourse of a discipline mean socialization within the community of users of the “genres (ways of acting)” and “styles (ways of being)” of the discipline (Fairclough, 1999). Knowing the discourse of a discipline, therefore, is a form of socialization into the ways the members of the discipline talk, write, and participate in the knowledge construction by making the appropriate linguistic choices to convey the meaning.


This paper draws on both academic language and SFL perspectives to conceptualize the domain of knowledge needed to teach content to ELLs. Specifically, we draw on the argument, common to both perspectives, that language of schooling includes lexico-grammatical and discourse features that help to perform discipline-specific tasks (e.g., hypothesizing) and to convey discipline-specific meaning. Also, we draw on another argument, residing mostly in the SFL perspective, that speaking and writing the language of a discipline are major parts of being socialized into the discipline. Grounded on these two broad arguments, the proposed domain is intended to provide a lens for understanding language as integral to teachers’ teaching of content to ELLs. Next, we define the proposed construct and discuss its premises and arguments. We provide example classroom teaching scenarios used to assess the existence of the domain. In doing so, we contrast these scenarios with another classroom scenario in which the teacher does not consider the student characteristics nor pay attention to the language demands placed on the students in teaching the content.


DISCIPLINARY LINGUISTIC KNOWLEDGE FOR TEACHING CONTENT: CONCEPTUALIZATION


We use the term Disciplinary Linguistic Knowledge (DLK) for teaching academic content to ELLs to refer to the specialized knowledge base for teaching content to ELLs, and we define DLK as teachers’ knowledge of the academic discourse of a discipline or content area.2 DLK is proposed as the linguistic knowledge base that all teachers of ELLs need to facilitate students' understanding of oral and written discourse within a discipline and their use of language in ways that allow them to actively participate in the disciplinary discourse. We propose that DLK is also needed to model for ELLs how language is used to communicate meaning and to engage them in the disciplinary discourse. The term DLK warrants for its existence and is derived from the growing body of aforementioned literature on understanding ELLs’ challenges learning academic content and identifying effective practices for teaching content to ELLs.


We posit two main subdomains of DLK: (a) the ability to identify the linguistic features and choices that are appropriate to the disciplinary discourse and (b) the ability to model these for students. DLK refers to teachers’ knowledge of a particular disciplinary discourse and involves knowledge for (a) identifying linguistic features of the disciplinary discourse and (b) modeling for ELLs how to communicate meaning in the discipline and engaging them in using the language of the discipline orally or in writing. Overall, DLK is proposed as the knowledge base needed to maximize ELLs’ access to content understanding and participation in talking and writing the language of a particular discipline.


IDENTIFYING LINGUISTIC FEATURES


The argument for the first subdomain is that DLK entails particular knowledge for identifying and unpacking the linguistic features and language demands of a disciplinary discourse to make the content accessible to ELLs. We use the term accessible following de Oliveira (2012) who argued that


making content accessible to ELLs means providing them access to the ways in which knowledge is constructed in the content areas, as they are written, by not simplifying the texts, but by developing teachers’ understanding about how disciplinary discourse is constructed. (p. 195)


Thus, we argue that, as part of the unique knowledge base for teaching ELLs, teachers know which linguistic features associated with the particular content might cause ELLs’ lack of communication and misunderstandings or misconceptions. That is, to resolve misconceptions and facilitate ELLs’ comprehension and interpretation of the content, linguistic features need to be unpacked. There are two premises in this argument: (a) there are linguistic features that convey meaning and content in a given discipline, and (b) the linguistic choices are made in each discipline at the word, sentence, and discourse level to convey meaning.


The first premise is that teachers identify the linguistic features specific to a content area. In doing so, they decode or unpack the linguistic features of the discipline to build connections between content and meaning and particular linguistic features and structures that convey the particular meanings. By “unpack,” we mean that teachers make the linguistic form–meaning connections of the disciplinary discourse explicit for students. In other words, teachers make the content-related input comprehensible and accessible to ELLs (Cummins, 2000a). Form here refers to a string of words grammatically put together to carry meaning. A string of forms (words or sentences,) might carry various meanings depending on the context in which it is being used. For instance, McCarthy (1991) discussed how the following sentences might carry the meaning of question, statement, or command: “You don't love me: (a) question (b) statement” or “You eat it: (a) statement (b) command” (p. 9). Form–meaning connections are made when teachers attend to the features of language (i.e., form) and they simultaneously model for ELLs the ways in which meaning and content are communicated in the particular discipline. As teachers identify the linguistic choices made to convey meaning in the particular discipline, they also make the content comprehensible to ELLs by explicitly teaching specific language functions, forms, or meaning behind the text in order for ELLs to actually learn how the linguistic choices are being used to convey the particular meaning. Once ELLs could differentiate and be made aware of the linguistic choices through the comprehensible input received, they could more readily participate in producing or using the language orally or in writing to convey their understanding of the content.


The second premise is that the ways in which meaning is communicated in content areas are instantiated through linguistic choices, e.g., at vocabulary, grammatical and syntactical structures, and discourse levels (Christie & Martin, 1997; Gebhard et al., 2011; Schleppegrell, 2004). The linguistic choices operate at the word, sentence, and discourse levels: at the word (e.g., square root of 25), sentence (e.g., taking the square root is the inverse operation of squaring), and discourse (e.g., taking the square root involves finding the number that, when multiplied by itself, gives 25) levels. The linguistic choices at these three levels exist to communicate meaning and perform language tasks and functions associated with the particular discipline, such as writing laboratory reports in the science classroom (Schleppegrell, 2004), explaining solution processes or describing conjectures in the mathematics classroom (Moschkovich, 1999), writing personal recounts of an event in the English language arts classroom (Brisk & Zisselsberger, 2011), and retelling events or presenting debates in the social studies classroom (Fang & Schleppegrell, 2008).


It follows from these premises that teachers must be able to identify the linguistic features specific to a content area so that they can decode or unpack the linguistic features of the discipline and build connections between content and meaning, on the one hand, and particular linguistic features and structures that convey the particular meanings, on the other; and that teachers must be able to explicitly teach what constitutes appropriate linguistic choices in their discipline.


MODELING HOW TO COMMUNICATE MEANING


The argument for the second subdomain is that DLK involves teachers’ knowledge for modeling the ways in which the discourse of a discipline is constructed and for engaging ELLs in communicating meaning in the disciplinary discourse orally or in writing. When modeling the disciplinary discourse, teachers make the linguistic features of a content area explicit. Further, teachers draw on DLK to engage ELLs in learning how the rules of the linguistic features function to convey meaning in the content area. In doing so, teachers encourage ELLs to explore and build form–meaning connections to read, write, listen, speak, and think in the language of the discipline. In this process, students produce work in written or verbal form where they demonstrate their knowledge of the discipline using the disciplinary language as it was modeled to them. Hence, students participate in using the language of the content for complex academic tasks such as “to generate new knowledge, create literature and art, and act on social realities” (Cummins, 2000b). In the process of constructing form–meaning connections, students develop awareness of and knowledge about what linguistic features are used to represent the meanings and ideas associated with the content.


In this section, we have proposed that DLK encompasses teachers’ knowledge of disciplinary discourse in order to represent the disciplinary content in accessible ways to ELLs. We have also argued that to make content accessible, every teacher needs to be able to identify and unpack the ways in which the linguistic features are connected to the meanings of a discipline. As teachers raise ELLs’ awareness explicitly around how form–meaning connections are linked in the discourse of the discipline, they will be able to engage ELLs in reading, writing, listening, speaking, and thinking in the disciplinary discourse. Therefore, within the purview of DLK, teachers should know about the linguistic choices made in a given discipline and should be able to identify the language demands and unpack the meaning–form relationships for ELLs to model for them and engage them in using the discourse of the discipline.


CHARACTERISTICS OF DLK


Here, drawing on both the academic language perspective and SFL linguistic theory, we inform the specific characteristics DLK might entail. Teachers’ disciplinary linguistic knowledge might manifest itself at the word, sentence, and discourse levels to help ELLs construe disciplinary meaning. Central to this manifestation are the linguistic features that are represented at the word, sentence, and discourse levels in the discourses of a content area (Scarcella, 2003). Lexico-grammatical choices (Christi & Derewianka, 2008) help to realize these different meanings in a given schooling context while undertaking tasks such as solving mathematical problems, responding to a teacher, writing the steps of a scientific experiment, and so on. In this section, we present examples of aspects of the linguistic choices at the word, sentence, and discourse levels, though not exhaustive. It should be noted as a limitation of our discussion that most of these features may not reflect the linguistic demands within all content areas or for students in the younger grades.


At the word level, knowledge of the forms and meanings of words are distinguished in the following categories (Scarcella, 2003): general words, technical words, and nontechnical words used across academic disciplines. Beyond these categories, lexical knowledge also entails the ways in which academic words are formed using prefixes, roots, and suffixes—the parts of words. If teachers know the meanings of certain prefixes and suffixes and teach these to their students, the students will be better able to strategically guess the meanings of unknown vocabulary (Kieffer & Lesaux, 2007). For instance in science, similar to the work of Kieffer & Lesaux (2007), Fang  identified several multimorphemic terms in science utilizing Greek or Latin parts such as “microorganisms = micro + organ + ism + s; protostar = proto + star; anthropoda = anthro + poda” (p. 494). If teachers know the meanings of certain prefixes (e.g., micro) and suffixes (e.g., poda) and teach these to their students, the students will be better able to strategically guess the meanings of unknown vocabulary.


SFL makes it clear that, at the word level, understanding and presenting ideas in a content area happen through choosing and using the “right” nouns, verbs, and other content words to construe the meaning intended in the content area (Schleppegrell, 2004). School-based texts and tasks are characterized as technical and abstract and construed in a distanced relationship between the listener and reader. Schleppegrell elaborated, explaining that the lexical choices made in school tasks or texts include circumstances, participants, and processes. Circumstances are typically prepositional phrases (e.g., in English). Participants are typically nouns or nominal groups (e.g., each clause). Processes are verbs or verbal groups (e.g., may include). Together, these carry the ideas and meaning in a text. Further, in school-based texts or tasks, certain phrases and conjunctions (e.g., and, because, if, so, and but) are used to relate logical relationships such as “relationships of time, consequence, comparison, and addition” (p. 54). These phrases or words serve both to convey specialized meanings using assertive or declarative mood (e.g., “you are reading about disciplinary linguistic knowledge”) and to structure the text to convey the disciplinary meanings.


At the sentence level, teachers’ knowledge of grammatical features in English should enable them to decode for ELLs the meaning being conveyed in a text or utterance and engage ELLs to use those grammatical features in ways appropriate to a particular disciplinary discourse. Sentence-level knowledge of linguistic structures would enable teachers to identify abstract, densely packed, and technical language employed to communicate ideas in the disciplinary discourse. According to Scarcella (2003), this knowledge base includes, but is not limited to, pronouns, comparatives, verb systems, word families, grammatical collocations, modality system, grammatical metaphor, complex rules of punctuation associated with argumentative composition, procedural description, and analysis. For instance, drawing on knowledge of verb systems, teachers could elucidate the use of passive–active voices to emphasize or deemphasize agency in academic texts used across grade levels. While use of passive voice characterizes academic discourse across all content areas, use of passive voice has a special role in scientific writing, where subjectivity is avoided in favor of the perceived objectivity of the passive voice. Likewise, the use of conditionals is common in each of the content areas. However, in mathematics, conditionals are used especially as part of the problem-solving processes such as the following example: If the total number of soccer and basketball players is 60, then how many soccer players are there in the school? In this sentence, the if-clause helps construe the logical relationships at the sentence level (Schleppegrell, 2004).


From an SFL point of view, sentence-level grammatical features are characterized by clauses that are used to pack information densely into each sentence (Schleppegrell, 2004). This feature inherently involves embedding and combining clauses to convey interpersonal and logical meanings. According to Schleppegrell (2007), technical phrases in mathematics might be especially challenging as the grammatical structures behind the phrases used in the language of mathematics tend to be dense and long. The example “the volume of a rectangular prism with sides 8, 10, and 12 cmincludes the “quantifiable, mathematical attribute of the head noun” (i.e., “the volume of” and “the length of”) and adjectives modifying the noun (i.e., “rectangular”), and qualifiers coming after the noun (i.e., “with sides 8, 10, and 12 cm”) (p. 143). Such dense noun phrases are used in the language of mathematics to construct complex mathematical meanings, especially in word problems.


Schleppegrell (2004) and others (Fang, 2006; Fang & Schleppegrell, 2008) also identified nominalization as characteristic of academic texts at the sentence level. Nominalization is defined as a process by which verbs or adjectives serve as nouns or noun phrases to convey the meaning that a whole clause would carry in everyday language. Schleppegrell exemplified, noting that the everyday way of saying “because the telephone was invented, there were many new opportunities for better communication” would be phrased academically using nominalization as “the invention of the telephone created many opportunities for enhanced communication” (p. 73). The noun phrase “invention of the telephone” is a nominalized form of the clause “the telephone was invented” (p. 72). All in all, the implication about sentence-level construal of ideas in a particular disciplinary discourse is that teachers be able to identify structures that are inherently abstract, densely packed, and technical so as to provide ELLs with access to the meanings embedded in these syntactical features.


At the discourse level, the discourse component of academic English includes knowledge of cohesive devices such as specific introductory features and other organizational signals. The discourse devices include, but are not limited to, introductory features (e.g., in light of recent discoveries in), organizational signals (e.g., next and as follows), as well as connectives (e.g., because and although) (Gebhard et al., 2011). Take for example Schleppegrell’s [39_17361.htm_g/00001.wmf](2007) discussion of the register of mathematics, in which she pointed out that conjunctions like if and when, and words like therefore, given, and assume have very specialized usages and meanings, especially in developing theorems and proofs and in establishing causal and logical relationships of time, consequence, comparison, and addition at the sentence and discourse levels (Schleppegrell, 2004). The discourse devices help students to understand cause and effect relationships, and to follow logical lines of thought. Also, when modeled by the teachers, these discourse features help students to express causal, logical, and temporal relationships and provide transitions among these relationships.


In each content area, teachers of ELLs need to identify and attend to the linguistic choices made within the discourse in order to make content accessible to ELLs at the word, sentence, and discourse levels. The work of specifying the components of Disciplinary Linguistic Knowledge at these levels is iterative and ongoing because we draw on a growing body of work on SFL and academic language as applicable to the context of schooling practices in the United States. Next, to further delineate the proposed domain of disciplinary linguistic knowledge, we illustrate several classroom scenarios that we have used to assess this domain.


ILLUSTRATIONS


We proposed that DLK is a specialized knowledge regarding how language is used to communicate the ideas and concepts that are particular to an academic discipline. Teachers should have this knowledge and use it to unpack lexico-grammatical choices and discourse structures in an academic field, to model the disciplinary discourse for ELLs, and to engage ELLs in that discourse.


For instance, suppose that a mathematics teacher, Ms. Yel, is teaching the Pythagorean Theorem and using the following text to explain how to find the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle: “To find the length of side c, take the square root of 25. Taking the square root involves finding the number that, when multiplied by itself, gives 25. Taking the square root is the inverse operation of squaring.” Ms. Yel then explains this text, unpacking the embedded clauses (“Taking the square root involves finding the number that, when multiplied by itself, gives 25”) and nominalization (inverse operation) as follows:


At this point, we know that c2 = 25. To find the length of the hypotenuse, we need to find c, not c2. Since c has been squared to get 25, this means that some number c multiplied by itself is equal to 25. We need to find that number, which is called the square root. Since 52 = 25, the square root of 25 is 5. That means that c = 5. When I square a positive number, like 52 = 25, and then take the square root of the answer, like , notice that I come back to the number I started with. This is an example of inverse operations, so taking the square root is the inverse operation of squaring.


Later during the lesson, Ms Yel assigns the students to find the unknown side of the right triangle shown in a worksheet and write an explanation of the process they used to solve the problem. One ELL turns in the work:


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In response to this student’s work, the question is: How does the teacher engage the student to express his solution to the problem using the language of mathematics? The teacher underlines the verb “squared” and reminds the student of the correct collocation, “take the square root of,” that was taught during instruction. The issue here is that these two verb choices, i.e., “to square” versus “to take the square root of,” refer to two related but inverse mathematical operations, and the teacher’s job is to get the student to use the language in a way that construes the accurate mathematical meaning. One could ask: Would it be sufficient to correct the ELL’s use of the verb “squared” with “took the square root of”? Various pedagogical moves are available to engage the student in using the language of mathematics and, specifically, the accurate collocation. Within the purview of DLK, the starting point for Ms. Yel is to identify what linguistic choices the student can and cannot make at the word, sentence, and discourse levels that are appropriate within the discourse of mathematics. Once the appropriate linguistic choices are identified using DLK, the teacher would unpack for the ELL why “took the square root of” is the right way of expressing the intended mathematical meaning and, thereby, engage the student in using the discourse of the discipline. To do so, the teacher, whether co-teaching with an ESL teacher or not, needs to have a fundamental understanding and knowledge of how language operates at the word, sentence, and discourse levels and of how language is used to communicate mathematical ideas, concepts, and reasoning. This instructional scenario reflects the necessity of drawing on the linguistic choices made in mathematical discourse and attending to the linguistic challenges for the ELL, and modeling for the ELL how to make an appropriate lexical choice to accurately construe mathematical meaning.


In another classroom scenario, Ms. Jimenez gives her students this problem: “Carlos wants to cover the bottom edge of his window with a row of tiles that are each 5 inches long. If the bottom of the window is 42 inches long, how many tiles will he need to buy?” When the students have finished the problem, Ms. Jimenez wants to give them another problem that was mathematically similar to the first. Her focus is on selecting a division problem that calls for using the remainder in the same way as in the original word problem. In this scenario, the teacher draws on her content knowledge specific to teaching division problems. She considers alternative problems to find the one that is most similar to the original problem, in terms of both the meaning of division and the nature of the remainder. The problems she considers are as follows: (a) Tim needs to pack 42 binders into boxes in order to ship them. If each box can hold 5 binders, what would be the fewest number of boxes needed to ship all of the binders? (b) Gabriela has 42 stickers and wants to divide them up equally among 5 of her friends. How many stickers should each friend get? (c) Robert wants to wrap gifts, and he has 42 feet of ribbon on a spool. If each gift requires 5 feet of ribbon, how many gifts can be wrapped using the ribbon on the spool?


In reasoning through these options, Ms. Jimenez draws on her knowledge of mathematics as it applies to teaching. Through the CKT lens, one could posit that the teacher is demonstrating specialized content knowledge for teaching mathematics. Through the same lens, the teacher should be able to solve the original problem. Then, she should choose a problem that is both similar in terms of division and similar in the nature in which one would use (or not use) the remainder. The CKT lens considers only the specialized content knowledge that is used in teaching mathematics and oversees the specific student characteristics or the challenges students encounter learning the content the teacher presents in the classroom. It also oversees the aspect of choosing the additional problem according to the language demands that might pose challenges for ELLs to understand and reason the problem.


To fill in the gap within CKT, the proposed notion of DLK situates knowledge of language as integral to content knowledge for teaching ELLs in the content areas. To further illustrate what we mean by this knowledge base, let’s take another instructional scenario that we constructed to assess science teachers’ disciplinary linguistic knowledge for teaching middle school science to ELLs. In this scenario, the learning objective is that students will learn how to write an accurate and clear description of a scientific experiment. The experiment is on the rate of chemical reaction of a mixture of yeast, sugar, and water. All students have written paragraphs describing the experiment and its results. Below is a paragraph from an ELL who scored at Level 3 in writing in terms of the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) descriptors. Upon seeing this piece of writing, Ms. Lowes underlines the last sentence of the paragraph as shown below:


We wanted to find out how temperature affects reaction. We put yeast, water, and sugar into six plastic bags. We squeezed the air from the bag and closed them. We put two bags in ice water two bags in room-temperature water, and the last two bags in warmer water. Every 10 minutes, we measured the bags. We averaged the results for the bags and made a graph. The graph showed that higher temperature water produced more CO2 than lower temperature water. The bags with yeast, water, and sugar in warm water produced more CO2 than the bags in cold water.


At this point Ms. Lowes is trying to decide what feedback on the underlined sentence in the student paragraph would best help the ELL rewrite the sentence to clarify the scientific meaning. She decides to raise the ELL’s awareness about the ambiguity in the comparative parallel construction of the phrases as to what exactly caused the increase in CO2. To do so, the teacher asks: “Did the bags in warm water produce CO2, or did something in the bags in warm water produce the CO2?” In doing so, the teacher is helping the ELL unpack, at the sentence level, what specifically she or he means to convey using the comparative structure.


In a similar middle grade science scenario, Mr. Meadows’ students wrote paragraphs describing the yeast, sugar, and water experiment and its results. Below is a paragraph written by an ELL whose English proficiency has been identified as being at WIDA Writing Level 3.


We wanted to find out how temperature affects reaction. We put yeast, sugar, and water into six plastic bags. We squeezed air from the bags and closed them. We put two bags in ice water, two bags in room-temperature water, and the last two bags in warmer water. Every 10 minutes, we measured the water that the bags pushed out. We averaged the results for the bags and made a graph. The graph showed that higher temperature water produced more CO2 than lower temperature water. The bags with yeast, sugar, and water in warm water produced more gas than in cold water.


Mr. Meadows marks the underlined sentence to provide feedback for the ELL to clarify the meaning. He decides to raise the ELL’s awareness of two misconstrued scientific meanings in this sentence: Every 10 minutes, we measured the water that the bags pushed out. First, he prompts the student to specify whether she or he measured the water or “the volume of the water” by asking: Did you measure the water or the volume of the water? He also points to the everyday usage of the phrase “pushed out” and questions the student, offering an alternative verb: “Do you mean displaced?” Here, the teacher rephrases the student’s linguistic choices made at the word level and provides more specific technical words to express the intended scientific meaning.


In these classroom scenarios, we have illustrated possible ways in which ELLs have difficulty understanding or expressing disciplinary meaning at the word and sentence levels. These scenarios reflect how teachers might draw on DLK to identify and unpack the linguistic choices and demands inherent to the discourse of a particular discipline or content area. Further, we have proposed that teachers would draw on DLK to model for ELLs how to communicate meaning in the particular disciplinary discourse.


SUMMARY


Every teacher at any grade level is likely at some point in her or his career to encounter ELLs. Not every teacher may be prepared with the essential knowledge base to meet the challenges of teaching ELLs (Barron & Menken, 2002; Kindler, 2002; Waxman & Tellez, 2002). Building on the previous scholarship (Anstrom et al., 2010; de Jong & Harper, 2005, 2008; Halliday, 1993; Luca, Villegas, Freedson-Gonzalez, 2008; Scarcella, 2003; Schleppegrell, 2004; Wong-Fillmore & Snow, 2000), we propose DLK to explore the knowledge base that teachers need in order to make academic content accessible and meaningful to ELLs, irrespective of teachers’ diverse educational, linguistic, and sociocultural backgrounds.


Within the purview of DLK, language is viewed as integral to all learning and to how learning takes place in classrooms. It follows then that all the teaching and learning practices that take place in the classroom are linked to the ways in which the teacher uses the language of the discipline to represent and unpack content in accessible ways and to respond to ELLs’ challenges and misconceptions. We propose that DLK entails teachers’ ability to identify linguistic challenges associated with a content area and to make ELLs aware of the linguistic choices that underlie reading, writing, listening, speaking, and thinking in the language of the discipline. Specifically, teachers’ knowledge of lexical, syntactical, and discourse aspects of the linguistic choices associated with the particular content area makes it possible for teachers to address linguistic challenges that ELLs might encounter in interpreting the content. Moreover, teachers’ knowledge of disciplinary discourse makes it possible to transform the linguistic challenges into opportunities to model various uses and functions associated with the particular discipline and to engage ELLs in the expected use of disciplinary discourse. As part of the DLK knowledge base, teachers who draw upon the DLK know how to model questioning, investigation, and communication styles prevalent in a disciplinary discourse and how to provide opportunities for ELLs to become aware of and participate in the disciplinary discourse.


DISCUSSION


In order for ELLs to carry out academic tasks and participate in the disciplinary discourse, they need to know how to act on the textual meaning through the use of the words, structures, and symbols appropriate to the disciplinary discourse. While demonstrating the knowledge of disciplinary discourse for pedagogical purposes to engage ELLs in the academic tasks, teachers model reasoning and the “valued” use of disciplinary discourse to support such use by ELLs (Schleppegrell, 2009). Socializing ELLs in the discourse of a discipline not only involves teachers’ modeling, but also providing opportunities to engage ELLs in the ways of thinking, talking, and writing that the disciplinary community values. In modeling for and engaging ELLs in the use of the disciplinary discourse, Schleppegrell (2009) recommended that teachers move ELLs back and forth in the hybrid space where everyday language and academic register intersect. In this back-and-forth movement, it is especially essential that teachers also respect and legitimize ELLs’ everyday ways of expressing the academic meanings. In discussing a study by Gibbons (2006), Schleppegrell (2009, p. 19) pointed out that one of the participating students’ journal entries or reports on a scientific experiment evolved cumulatively over time, projecting the expected way of reporting on the observed scientific event. The student initially produced the following report.


We put paddle pops around the foam and then we got a magnet and we put it in. and we got another magnet and we put it on top but it wasn’t touching the other magnet. and then when we turned in around. it attach together/ the two magnets. and when we put on the side they em attach together.


Later, language and content is made comprehensible and accessible to the student through the teachers’ recast3 and explicit talk around the “expected” way of communicating meaning in written language in science. Afterward, the same student writes the following report on magnetism:


All magnets have a side that repels and a side that attracts. Magnets don’t stick if you put north with a north or south with a south, but if you put a south with a north they stick.


The process of moving back and forth between the informal and academic registers while expressing meaning in science (as illustrated above), mathematics, social studies, and English language arts is useful to gradually scaffold ELLs’ understanding and engagement in the use of the academic discourse of the disciplines.


Engaging in the discourse of content areas is especially critical for ELLs’ academic achievement at schools as it involves socialization into schooling and the language of schooling. Access to the disciplinary discourse is more likely to occur if teachers invite ELLs’ participation in the disciplinary discourse. ELLs’ participation in the disciplinary discourse entails understanding certain acceptable ways of communicating meaning, that is, of talking and writing to convey meaning within the discourse of a particular discipline. Participation in the ways of conveying meaning could make a significant difference in students’ opportunity to learn the content and the valued ways of learning disciplinary knowledge (Moschkovich & Nelson-Barber, 2009). Further, when viewed through the community of practice framework (Lave & Wenger, 1991), it is important to have access to a community of learners that follows certain ways of acting, talking, and thinking associated with the academic discipline. If learners are not accorded this access, they miss the opportunity to develop the proper use of academic register in order to undertake academic tasks shared by the discourse community (Gee, 2008). When the learner is denied the equal opportunity to participate in the discourses of academic disciplines, it becomes an issue of equity. Thus, to provide access, it is important that teachers devise various pedagogical approaches or practices that provide ELLs with the opportunity to use and participate in the ways the community of the discipline thinks, talks, and writes.


Moreover, all teachers, at the elementary, middle, or secondary level, face the challenge of understanding the language demands of academic content and classroom tasks and developing the academic language skills of ELLs. Suppose that an elementary teacher receives the following writing sample from an ELL who has been schooled in the United States since he was born: “The Pach ar goot win [The Patriots are going to win] in the soop bol [in the Super Bowl] and goen to [and going to] bet the jais. [beat the Giants.]” (Turkan & Iddings, 2012, p. 6). How does the teacher engage the ELL in writing his or her ideas using proper language of the narrative genre in an English language arts (ELA) class? The language of the narrative genre refers to all the linguistic choices made at the word, sentence, and discourse levels to convey narration. For example, the writer must choose whether to use a first- or third-person pronoun, whether to use present or past tense, and how to use transition words to best present the chronology of events. Seen through the lens of DLK, the teacher would minimally have the content knowledge for how language is used to communicate meaning in the narrative genre in an ELA classroom. For instance, the teacher would know that report writing does not always require temporal sequencing of events but rather specialized vocabulary about the particular topic that is being reported (Heritage et al., 2007). Further, we would claim that the teacher should be able to draw upon DLK to model for ELLs how linguistic choices are made at the vocabulary, grammatical, and syntactical structures, and discourse levels in this genre.


On a general note on the work of elementary compared to secondary teachers teaching ELLs, elementary teachers might need to plan instruction to address the language demands across each of the content areas, whereas secondary teachers may focus on a particular content area. Teachers at the two levels might address the language demands in varying degrees of depth and breadth. Nonetheless, both the elementary and middle school teachers need to be able to identify the language demands either across the content areas or within one content area.


In summary, with the normative goal of actively engaging ELLs in learning the content and using the disciplinary discourse, it is proposed that teachers know and model the discourse of how English language works in a particular discipline. Disciplinary Linguistic Knowledge is a proposed knowledge base needed to understand and model the disciplinary discourse and to socialize ELLs in the ways of knowing and constructing knowledge in the particular content area.


IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH AND TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS


DLK is proposed as a knowledge base essential for teaching content to ELLs whose knowledge of the concepts in the content area and especially of the language used to communicate those concepts may be lagging behind that of their non-ELL peers. The construct of DLK is in its infancy. Given that it is a normative concept, further research is needed. The conceptualization of the construct laid out in this paper is the starting point to research the components of this construct that could be further specified for teacher education programs. It also would stimulate research as to how DLK as a specialized knowledge base for teaching content to ELLs might contribute to further operationalization of content knowledge for teaching, as CKT does not yet identify how the nature of content knowledge for teaching might change in interaction with the language demands of the content and students in the classroom.


In our larger body of work, we have chosen to test whether the specification and operationalization of the construct is possible through developing measurement items. The premise behind this choice has been that if a construct underlying the teacher knowledge base exists, its observed properties should be assessable. This exploration could continue in the area of developing observation protocols that might address the need for a specialized measure to assess quality of teaching content to ELLs. The observation protocol might even serve to establish a common language to talk about the practice of teaching (Grossman et al., 2009) content to ELLs. This research will contribute to the ongoing program focused on construct validation of the proposed knowledge base needed to teach specifically mathematics and science to ELLs. Results will support future studies that examine a range of validity-related questions, including associations with other measures of teaching and of teaching outcomes.


Moreover, the parameters that frame the knowledge base proposed in this paper might incite further discussion to pull together a much more comprehensive body of scholarship on knowledge of linguistics needed to teach a discipline. One of the outcomes of the increased consciousness and discussion might be to affect the design of teacher education and professional development programs. This would be a reminder and a call to action for teacher educators and teacher education programs that have been asked to provide “an equitable education for students whose primary language is not English” (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2002, p. 6).


As mentioned above, another possible outcome might be to provide modules of assessment around teacher performance that would be indicative of teachers’ readiness to represent content accessibly to ELLs. In fact, this second outcome might afford a positive backwash effect on the teacher education programs and professional development programs. In turn, these programs might start incorporating curricula, teaching, and field opportunities involving teachers proactively to engage all learners in learning and talking the language of the content.


CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE LITERATURE


What is different about the conceptualization of DLK from the body of literature that has attempted to guide the teacher education and professional development programs by discussing what teachers of ELLs need to know and be able to do (e.g., August & Hakuta, 1997; Lucas & Villegas, 2011; Lucas et al., 2008; Reeves, 2009; Wong-Fillmore & Snow, 2000)? Our response is that we have attempted to abstract and map the specialized knowledge base all teachers of ELLs need to teach content with the commonly shared premise that “learning is a language-grounded process” (Doyle, personal communication, May 10, 2010). The potential implication here is that the Disciplinary Linguistic Knowledge base is not composed of a generic set of linguistic principles, but something that will need to be learned for each subject. This has critical implications for teacher preparation.


In our contribution, we reiterate the necessity of incorporating linguistic knowledge and disciplinary discourse dimensions of teaching content to ELLs into the professional education of new and in-service teachers. Viewing knowledge of language as integral to teachers’ content knowledge for teaching is a potential contribution to the conceptualization of specialized content knowledge for teaching (Ball et al., 2008). The reasons for this complexity could be traced back to the long-held division of training and expertise between English as a second language (ESL) and content teachers. It could be claimed that the essential knowledge base developed over the years in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and/or bilingual certificate programs (Freeman, 2002; Johnson, 2006; Johnston & Goettsch, 2000 informing applied linguistic aspects of teaching content to ELLs has not been transferred or translated into all teachers’ knowledge base for the purposes of making content accessible to ELLs and enhancing their academic language proficiency (Lucas et al., 2008). In addition to the disconnect between TESOL and bilingual training and training of content teachers in general, the task of teaching ELLs in the mainstream classes traditionally has become compartmentalized between ESOL and content teachers. When all teachers are responsible for student learning, there should not be compartmentalization and diffusion of responsibility. Hence, the stance taken here has been that all teachers should have the essential specialized knowledge base to make content accessible to ELLs and engage them in the use of the language of the content.


Cognizant of the complexity of penetrating into the designs and requirements of teacher education programs, by proposing DLK, we aim to stimulate discussion around how knowing the linguistic choices and discourse features characterizing the content areas could influence teachers’ responsiveness to ELLs’ challenges, mediating their achievement in schooling. It is our hope that our conception of DLK contributes to the ongoing discussion in scholarly circles of what constitutes knowledge for teaching in consideration of the special student populations in the classroom.


Notes


1. Halliday (1978) defined academic register as “a set of meanings that is appropriate to a particular function of language, together with the words and structures which express these meanings. We can refer to a ‘mathematics register,’ in the sense of the meanings that belong to the language of mathematics (the mathematical use of natural language, that is, not mathematics itself), and that a language must express if it is being used for mathematical purposes” (p. 195).

2. The terms academic discipline and content area are used interchangeably to refer to the fields of study taught at schools.

3. Recast refers to rephrasing students’ use of language by modeling appropriate language use (Lee, Penfield, & Buxton, 2011).


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 116 Number 3, 2014, p. -
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17361, Date Accessed: 5/25/2022 12:51:52 PM

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About the Author
  • Sultan Turkan
    Educational Testing Services
    E-mail Author
    SULTAN TURKAN is an associate research scientist at the Center for Validity Research at ETS. Prior to joining ETS in 2010, Turkan was a doctoral candidate in the teaching and teacher education program at University of Arizona. Her research focuses on understanding and assessing the quality of teaching mathematics and science to English language learners, teacher education and professional development, and formative teacher assessments. Turkan’s research interests expand across understanding how to develop fair and valid content assessments for ELLs as well as valid accommodations on large-scale content assessments. Her recent publication include (a) Turkan, S., & Iddings Da Silva, C. (2012). “That child is a yellow”: The conceptual metaphors and English language ideologies of the NCLB Era. Theory into Practice, 51(1)1–9. (b) Turkan, S., & Liu, L. (2012). Differentiated performance of ELLs on inquiry science items. International Journal of Science Education, 34(15), 2343–2369. (c) Jones, N., Buzick, H., & Turkan, S. (in press). Including students with disabilities and English language learners in measures of educator effectiveness. Educational Researcher.
  • Luciana De Oliveira
    Purdue University
    E-mail Author
    LUCIANA C. DE OLIVEIRA is associate professor of literacy and language education and director of the English language learning licensure program in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at Purdue University. Her research focuses on the teaching and learning of English language learners in content areas; teacher education, advocacy and social justice; and nonnative English-speaking teachers in TESOL. Her recent publications include Knowing and Writing School History: The Language of Students’ Expository Writing and Teachers’ Expectations (2011, Information Age) and L2 Writing in Secondary Classrooms: Student Experiences, Academic Issues, and Teacher Education co-edited with T. Silva (Routledge, 2013).
  • Okhee Lee
    New York University
    E-mail Author
    OKHEE LEE is a professor in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. Her research areas include science education, language and culture, and teacher education. Her recent publications include Lee, O., & Maerten-Rivera, J. (in press). Teacher change in elementary science instruction with English language learners: Results of a multi-year professional development intervention across multiple grades. Teachers College Record.
  • Geoffrey Phelps
    Educational Testing Services
    E-mail Author
    GEOFFREY PHELPS is a research scientist in the Understanding Teaching Quality Center at ETS. Prior to joining ETS in 2010, Phelps was an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan where he studied the relationship between teaching practice and teacher knowledge in the elementary subjects of mathematics and English language arts. His interest in teaching quality, teacher development, and school improvement stems from eight years of teaching primary grades in Vermont. Recent publications include (a) Kelcey, B., & Phelps, G. (in press). Parameters for the design of group randomized trials with teacher outcomes. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. (b) Phelps, G., Corey, D., Ball, D. L., Demonte, J., & Harrison, D. (2012). Explaining variation in instructional time: An application of quantile regression. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 34(2), 146–163.
 
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