Thursday, December 29, 2016

Importance of language skills in academic success

A recent paper discusses the importance of language skills in academic success:

As students progress through school, they are expected to demonstrate increasing levels of sophistication in their language and reading skills across all content areas. In order to gain knowledge through independent reading and participate in meaningful discussions in the classroom, students must master the complex words and phrases that characterize the language of school. Proficiency in these skills, otherwise known as academic language, is critical for reading comprehension and overall academic success...

Through targeted assessment and explicit instruction in academic language, educators have the power to impact students’ vocabulary knowledge, syntactic knowledge, and, subsequently, their reading comprehension. Although this instruction is particularly critical for struggling readers and English Language Learners, all students will benefit from targeted instruction in the words, phrases, and forms that constitute academic texts and discussions. While teachers’ classroom practices support students individually, school leaders can bolster language gains through selection of curriculum, assessment, and professional development opportunities that target this goal.  A unified mission around academic language helps districts and schools improve students’ likelihood of educational success and provides students with the tools they need to comprehend their world, in school and beyond.

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