Science Teaching Series

Internet Resources

I. Developing Scientific Literacy

II. Developing Scientific Reasoning

III. Developing Scientific Understanding

IV. Developing Scientific Problem Solving

V. Developing Scientific Research Skills

VI. Resources for Teaching Science

Academic Language & Content Literacy - Science

writingAcademic language is the language used in instruction, textbooks and exams. Academic language differs in structure and vocabulary from language used in daily social interactions. Academic language includes a (1) common vocabulary used in all disciplines, as well as a (2) technical vocabulary inherent to each individual discipline. Academic English is based more upon Latin and Greek roots than is common spoken English. In addition, academic language features more complex language and precise syntax than common English. Low academic language skills are associated with low performance in school. Academic language is a central theme in PACT and to the development of content literacy. PACT defines academic language as follows:

" 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."

Content Literacy

"[Reading] is essential in every content subject, such as history, geography, arithmetic, science, and literature. In fact, rapid progress in these subjects depends in a large degree on the ability of pupils to read independently and intelligently. It follows that good teaching must provide for the improvement and refinement of the reading attitudes, habits, and skills that are needed in all school activities involving reading (Gray, 1925, 1-2). [Gray, W. S. (1925). Reading activities in school and in social life. In G. M. Whipple (Ed.), The Twenty-Fourth Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education: Part I (pp. 1-8). Bloomington, IL: Public School Publishing Company.]

Content Literacy is the ability to use reading and writing as tools for learning subject matter.

Common vocabulary

Technical vocabulary

Academic Language of Science Includes a wide variety of resources including, but not limited to:

Games & activities for building academic vocabulary


Sourcebook for Teaching Science