Working Group 2

Learning and using bi-and multilingual disciplinary literacies in specific subjects

WG2 is devoted to learning and using bi-and multilingual disciplinary literacies in specific subjects. It mostly deals with the fact that school disciplines like Maths, Science or History rest upon language forms, lexical words and discourse features which are characteristic of each subject. Their description is valuable as such, but it becomes of even larger importance in the understanding that disciplinary language interferes with content learning. Therefore, WG2 considers the language of History, Maths and Science and describes its make-up and its evolution over the school years. This is done in the belief that language deficits give way to content learning deficits and these to educational deficits. Of course, such situations are exacerbated in the multilingual contexts that this COST ACTION looks at. WG2 therefore examines what is usually referred to as ‘historical literacy’, ‘historical communication’ or ‘history as language of schooling’ in the research literature, with similar labels for the rest of the disciplines.Another major tenet of WG2 is that multilingual education may take many forms and shapes –EMI, CLIL, content-based, regular immersion– and may address many sorts of students –migrant students, bilingual students, refugee students, lingua franca students. Nevertheless, all these situations rest upon a commonality: content of academic nature needs to be formed in a second language.In this scenario, WG2 considers three aspects. Briefly put, it deals with:

a) Description of disciplinary language: we intend to describe the language features of the disciplines at critical points of academic language development, so as to understand the borders and limits of Second Language Instructional Competence in Maths, Science and History.

b) Evolution of disciplinary language: we intend to identify the formal aspects of disciplinary language as regards syntax and discourse functions, so as to reveal the paths of learning and their gradual development. For this, we will use software tools which reveal ideal rates of language growth in areas like vocabulary size, command of cohesion devices, control of complex-structure formation (e.g., nominalization), etc.

c) Competence descriptors: we intend to delineate competence descriptors for Maths, History and Science in relation to a second language in the form of the Common European Framework of Reference, but with the inclusion of content. This will provide a simplified two-level description of competence in which language and content are integrated for Maths, Science and History. In short, WG2 intends to identify language aspects specific to the disciplines and devise tools to describe levels at which second language contact in the classroom needs to be highlighted, tasks need to be scaffolded and national curriculum guidelines need to be reconsidered.

WG LeaderFrancisco Lorenzo

WG Vice-Leader:  Lidija Cvikic

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