Mediating Academic Language Learning Through Classroom Discourse

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Abstract

For school-aged students who are learning ESL, the discourse of the classroom must simultaneously construct curriculum knowledge and be a site for second language development. This chapter focuses on academic language learning in the ESL school context, in particular on how language learning is mediated through classroom discourse. While linguistic, social, and sociocognitive traditions have interpreted the nature of interaction differently, it is seen in all of them as playing a major part in learning and language development. The chapter draws on research in sociocultural approaches to pedagogy, systemic functional linguistics (SFL), and second language acquisition (SLA) studies in examining the relationship between classroom discourse and the development of ESL students’ academic language learning. It argues that interactions should be examined both for their effectiveness in fostering language development and also for the impact these interactions have on how students view themselves. The chapter concludes with some implications for classroom practice, which suggest how teachers can orchestrate classroom discourse for academic language learning.