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Academic Language and School Success (M-4)


Academic language has been referred to as a “power code” in academic and professional circles; those unable to use it are at a social and academic disadvantage. In this workshop, we will investigate the nature of academic language, the obstacles it poses, and strategies that will help students understand academic language and motivate them to want to use it well.  

Who Should Attend?

Teachers of high school and adult learners, including community college and university levels.  

What Will I Learn?

In this workshop, participants
  • examine the characteristics of the grammar, vocabulary, and discourse structure of academic language 
  • examine the nature of academic vocabulary and identify the challenges it  poses, including  multiple meanings, subtlety of meaning, parts of speech, and spelling
  • analyze the language used in standardized tests, academic lectures, academic reading, and academic writing, and create a checklist of  relevant features to address during curriculum planning
  • explore ways to help students see the value of academic language and to motivate them in the challenging task of mastering it
  • collaborate with other teachers to evaluate and modify strategies designed to increase learner’s exposure to and mastery of academic language 

About the Workshop Leader

Cheryl Boyd Zimmerman is professor of TESOL at California State University, Fullerton, where she teaches graduate courses and coordinates the English Professional Development for a High School College access grant (GEAR-UP). She is series director of a reading and academic vocabulary textbook series and has authored a textbook for vocabulary teachers.