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European Centre for Modern Languages

Step 1: Planning

The materials in this section will help you to become more aware of the difference between everyday language and the language used in school as well as of the importance of language in subject learning. You will also find here a list of references if you want to read more.
 

3. Discover the tools

Part 1: Planning a lesson or a teaching unit

The tools presented in this section are practical procedures that will help you to identify students’ language needs in your subject(s). Examples from different subjects are included.  

TOOL Number 1: HOW TO IDENTIFY A DISCOURSE GENRE IN DIFFERENT SUBJECTS?

“Describing” does not have the same meaning in history, geography or science: to describe a historical actor or to describe a policy or an event does not require the same cognitive operations, organization of the information, or linguistic elements. Moreover, when students produce a text in history class, they must adopt the position of a history student. In math class, they must write from the point of view of a math student; the characteristics and linguistics elements are not the same as if he/she is asked to be, for example, a journalist. This tool allows subject teachers to identify the language practices, which are relevant to their subject. It is not to be distributed to the students. Column 2 (discourse genre) explains how to apply each category.

View table

TOOL Number 2: COLLABORATING AND IDENTIFYING DIFFERENCES IN SUBJECT-SPECIFIC DISCOURSE DEMANDS

This tool is the same as Tool 1, but it is intended to be completed by teachers from different disciplines. A comparison between genres makes it possible to further raise awareness of the different expectations for genres, to be more explicit in explaining these genres to students, and to identify common elements in different disciplines.  

View the table

Download the pdf 

Exercise 2:

  • Choose a subject you teach (other than history) and try to work out a similar table of Formulating a written hypothesis in biology, science etc. 
  • Identify the common elements in different subjects to be worked on