Academic Language Essay

1885 words - 8 pages

The importance of a content textbook, especially mathematics, is phenomenal. Some teachers often regard the textbook as the sole resource for their class instruction. However, they fail to question or analyze the textbook contents’ bias or perspective, whether linguistic, cultural, or political (Darvin, 2007). By analyzing textbook content, teachers can organize and sort the material by prioritizing the information to be learned and highlighting the most important instruction that will be addressed (Strahan & Herlihy, 1985). One of the most important components of any textbook is its academic language. Through analysis, the text’s academic language should be highlighted and studied to determine whether or not it coincides with students’ reading level or how it influences students’ work. In addition, by analyzing textbooks based on their academic language, the researcher gains a perspective to how the language will help increase students’ literacy skills.
Analysis of academic language
The first step to analyzing academic language of the text is to identify tier one, tier two and tier three words according to Beck, McKeown, & Kucan (2002). On page 42 of the geometry book, the first page of section 1.6: Classify Polygons, the book highlights the key vocabulary for this section on the side: polygon, side, vertex, convex, concave, n-gon, equilateral, equiangular, and regular. The first five of these terms are defined on this page. Other words that can be identified as tier level words are plane figure, segments, vertices, consecutive, interior, nonconvex, intersect, properties, collinear, and endpoint. The level of each word will be determined based on the importance of the word to the understanding of the rest of the reading, the amount of knowledge needed to define the word and whether or not the word describes an application or strategy vs. a description (Beck et al., 2002).
Accordingly, all the above words will be separated into the following categories: Tier one: side, vertex/vertices, polygon, endpoint, segments; Tier two: equilateral, equiangular, regular, convex, concave, intersect, consecutive, interior, collinear; Tier three: nonconvex, n-gon, plane figure, properties. The Tier one words are important to understanding the section content but can be addressed quickly; no additional knowledge is needed to define them. For example, once the teacher introduces a picture of a polygon, he/she can easily highlight to students what the endpoint, vertex, and side are. The Tier two words are the most important concepts that need to be taught in order for students to fully understand this section. Students need to be able to identify polygons as either convex or concave in addition to recognizing the polygon as either equilateral, equiangular, or regular. The rest of the words in this category assist students in understanding the rest of the words in the Tier two category. Finally, the Tier 3 words can be beneficial to...

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