5 Chapter Five: Academic Language

Academic Language

Once you have begun your intermediate level clinical courses at GSC, you will be required to address academic language in your lesson plans.  You will identify the essential academic language directly related to the learning objective. This is the language that deepens students’ understanding of the skill/concept being taught, as well as the process students are following in their learning.  All academic language should be directly related to your lesson objective.  You may focus upon language directly related to the process of the lesson as well as language aligned with the lesson content.

For example, if teaching a reading lesson on cause and effect, you will likely focus on words and/or phrases that communicate the concept of your objective: cause, reason, effect, result, signal words, text structure, etc.

Example: Elementary Reading Lesson Objective

Students S and P: By the end of this 30 minute lesson, when dictated 7 CVC words containing vowels: a,e,i,o,u, students will write at least 6 of the words correctly, showing understanding of letter/sound correspondence and combination of beginning, middle, ending sounds.

Student C will have 5 words dictated and write at least 4 of the words correctly.

Academic Language:  List the vocabulary clusters targeted in this lesson.




     Content words: 

  •      Consonant: Any letter that is not a vowel.
  •      Vowel: a,e,i,o,u
  •      CVC words: words that have a vowel surrounded by two             consonants.

Process words: 

  •      tapping: a way to segment the sounds in a word, usually             done with fingers

GSC’s Aligned Lesson Plan Section

Scaffolding Academic Language

State which instructional strategies you will use to support individual students’ academic language proficiency and how these supports will be removed as students demonstrate proficiency.  How will you meet each student’s language needs?  Your goal is for all students to use the academic language in discussion and written work related to the lesson objective.

Example: Elementary Reading Lesson
For student C this language will be the most challenging. It will be more important that she has a mastery of tapping and combining sounds than an understanding of exactly what a consonant is.  I will provide extensive modeling of tapping for C and also have the vowels and consonants categorized and written on the board for easy reference.  As C demonstrates competency in tapping independently, modeling will cease.  When C consistently identifies the consonants and vowels, visual representation will be removed.


More Examples of Scaffolding of Academic Language:

  • Students who are reading below grade level (A.B., F. H., and T. P.) will be provided with a graphic organizer that presents a visual representation of each word.  Observation of students’ decreasing reliance on this tool will provide evidence that it is no longer needed.
  • In this first lesson, a word wall will present both picture cues and definitions of academic language being addressed.  As students demonstrate proficiency, the word wall will be removed.
  • To support students’ acquisition of the academic language introduced in this lesson, students will participate in a ‘Turn and Talk’ in which they will be requested to explain these terms to their partners.  This discussion format will be repeated in subsequent lessons until observation reveals students’ appropriate contextual use of the academic language.

GSC’s Aligned Lesson Plan Section

GSC’s Aligned LOFT Evaluation Criteria:

GSC’s Aligned Lesson Plan Rubric Criteria



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GSC Lesson Planning 101 by Deborah Kolling and Kate Shumway-Pitt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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