[lg policy] call: Negotiating communicative practices in school: The case of 'academic language'

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 6 15:45:08 UTC 2011

Thematic session at the Sociolinguistics 19 conference, Berlin:

Negotiating communicative practices in school: The case of 'academic language'
Organizers: Miriam Morek (TU Dortmund); Vivien Heller (TU Dortmund)


This panel aims at bringing together researchers working on
interactive methods and mechanisms of negotiating norms of 'academic
language use' in the classroom. Especially in modern multicultural and
multilingual cities, classrooms are an institutional context in which
divergent discourse practices and different 'languages' meet. Those
divergences may result in restricted communicative and educational
support for some of the pupils.

In the last 10 years, notions such as 'language of school education'
(Council of Europe), 'academic language' (Cummins 2008), 'language of
schooling' (Schleppegrell 2010) - and in the German-speaking world
'Bildungssprache' (Gogolin 2009), 'Explizitsprache' (Maas 2008) and
'Schulsprache' (Cathomas 2007) - have increasingly aroused attention
in scientific discourse as well as in educational policy. All these
terms serve to refer to a specific linguistic 'register' that is
assumed to be functional for the purposes of learning and education.
Research on sociolinguistic variance in urban areas shows that access
to this kind of linguistic style and competence is influenced by
social and cultural living conditions.

Initially, the idea of a certain 'academic language' has been
discussed in relation to second language acquisition: The findings
that L2 learners are often less successful at school has been
explained by their lack of 'cognitive academic language proficiency'
(Cummins 2008). Today, the crucial role of acquiring sufficient
academic language competencies for learning and school success with
respect to all pupils is increasingly being acknowledged; for
instance, the Council of Europe aims at establishing a European
framework of reference for the 'language(s) of school education'.
Several descriptions of the functions and linguistic features of
academic language have been proposed (e.g. Schleppegrell 2010;
Cathomas 2007). Generally, the register is assumed to comprise certain
lexical, syntactic and structural features that enable and
contextualize academic, decontextualized, formal discourse, and is
oriented towards conceptual literacy. In spite of this, we currently
still know little about the teachers' and pupils' actual practices to
deal with these linguistic requirements in educational contexts.

Therefore, the panel addresses the issue of how teachers' expectations
for pupils' spoken or written discourse in school-based tasks are
brought about, i.e. interactionally achieved and negotiated in actual
teaching situations. Empirically, the goal is to discuss the
properties and the efficacy of communicative practices that are
related to a specific linguistic register and can be understood as
part of 'doing schooling'. From a methodological perspective, the
panel aims at broadening the focus on academic discourse by
highlighting the actors' actual - and diverse - communicative
practices, i.e. analysing the interactive structures through which
linguistic norms are interpreted and accomplished.

Call for Papers:

We invite presentations which address one or more of the following questions:

- What are communicative practices and linguistic styles teachers
expect their pupils to learn and command? How are these expectations
brought about in classroom interaction? (e.g. corrections,
instructions, modelling)

- What linguistic choices are (made) available to pupils, what are the
communicative norms they orient to, and how can pupils' discourse be
analysed from a sociolinguistic perspective? (e.g. social identities,
concepts of adequateness)

- How do pupils and teachers negotiate different communicative
practices in classroom interaction? How do they deal with conflicting
linguistic norms and styles that may be based on the pupils' different
linguistic and social backgrounds?

- What are specific requirements for learning and communicating within
specific subject-domains ? Is there a core of academic discourse
practices across domains?

Abstract length: max. 500 words.
Deadline for abstract submission: 31-Jan-2012
Submission via the conference website:

For further information concerning the thematic session please contact
the organizers of the session:



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