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Secondary curriculum and vocabulary

Academic language, and particularly academic vocabulary, is a high priority for bilingual students, across all curriculum areas.



Academic language within this school is a big emphasis, and obviously increasing the amount of academic words that the learner has is one of our main priorities. 


So what society were we looking at?


Tokelau. Ok, so on your handout, you have a grid? Yeah? Yep? And you have on that grid Describing change, explaining reasons, and explaining impacts.   So what I want you to do with those key words is put them under the correct heading.


I find that a lot of the students do know the words, but they actually don’t know how to use them to a large extent.  That’s why in class, in the lesson today, I always ask “Do you use these words in other curriculum areas?” because the words you use to describe in say Social studies could be different to how you use them in English or science and things like that. 


How do we use them in Maths, Ioane?

For maths we convert, like fractions and all that.

Yes, very good

And we transform some of the stuff


And we alter

We alter? We alter the numbers? The amounts? Good.  I know for a fact you have a lot of reasons, changes, and impacts already in your book.  Ok, so you’re just going to work together in a group, and pull all of your ideas onto one piece of paper.


The students have made vocabulary links across curriculum areas, and now they’ll work in groups saying them, writing the words and using them in meaningful contexts. 


I have actually tried to put more emphasis on group work, especially this year.  Often the routines that I have set up in the class in terms of group work they know they have a leader, or they have certain roles that each person in the group has to perform.   And usually they’re just management roles, like one person who makes sure that they’re on task, and the other person makes sure that the main points are clear, and are we following instructions.  And that enables them to own the activity.  And they just gain confidence in it as well. 


Students discussing work


What’s your body consisting of?


Yep, and how do you bring all those together?  In a…


Paragraph. So that’s your main points.  So you’ve got change, you’ve got your reasons,..Good


The teacher helps the students again, to integrate their learning across the curriculum. 


Have we seen one of these before? What’s it called?

Essay planner

Good, essay writing frame, ok.  Where have we seen these before?

In English

In English, yep? In employment studies, do you use them in employment studies?  Why do you think we need to use writing frames?

To help us with our essays.

To help us with our essay writing? Yep

With our structure

With our structure, good


Well they have more confidence, in the classroom, they know that within group activities they can communicate their answers well, and often their writing is very, very good at the same time.