“What is Academic Language” by James Paul Gee Response Essay- by EduBirdie

Children are experts when it comes to the use of the conversational language style they have learned from the families or the social setup where they belong.

Book Review on “What is Academic Language?” by James Paul Gee

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Some of the conversational styles are incorporated into the academic language. However, the initial conversational styles may prove disadvantageous to the students’ ability to learn the much valued academic language.

Academic language is widely employed in science fields; therefore, it is imperative that school going children master it very well.

A statement can be expressed in two different ways if conversational style of language is used, but the actual meaning may not be addressed explicitly. From the rusting analogy, Gee clarified that Jill and Philip meant the same thing but they are not giving the real phenomenon of rusting.

This example is a case whereby the students have failed to use academic language. According to Gee, this misconception can be done away with if the learners can employ academic language to explain the two scientific cases (Gee, 2008).

When scientists are developing any theory, they frequently advance their concepts using a language that expresses the central perspective using an easy -to­- understand methodology. Journals use academic language to support any scientific view professionally.

However, whenever scientists are advancing their interest to the public, they use a softer form of academic language. By doing so, they are informing the target, which may not necessarily have the scientific knowledge Edubirdie. Explanatory definitions are widely used in science textbooks.

Literature ?

According to Gee, explanatory descriptions are hard to understand but they can help link a www.sitejabber.com particular theme of the text with a certain scientific genre (Gee, 2008).

The type of the academic language used will significantly affect the theorizing and the experimenting perspective of the science. Conversational language style is the crucial foundation for the acquisition of academic language style.

Credible sources point out that schools play a very vital role in inculcating all the students with the school style of language (Gee, 2008).

It is difficult for those who are learning English to acquire academic language style. Gee warns that sometimes they have to learn both the languages simultaneously.

Academic language cannot be learned through grammar instruction, the students can only obtain this language when they hear it being used in a particular context, and they try to use it in the appropriate scientific field.

Middle- class homes equip their children with academic language style when they are learning to talk. The simple act of engaging the young child in story telling inculcates some concepts of academic language into his or her vocabulary.

For instance, the mother can coach or rather intervene during the process thus ensuring that the child expresses the points explicitly. The child also gets the chance to expound more on a particular topic and in the process he or she is slowly learning to take turns during conversation.

Gee assert that academic language is characterized by extended turn talking. The fact that children can acquire academic language during the story telling session fascinates.

Conversational language uses the short turn talking to switch from one topic to another. In vernacular style, the information is not explicit but solidarity is achieved. The scholarly article points out that academic language significantly helps the students identify themselves as young scientists (Gee, 2008).

Another way of imparting academic language to the students is by the introduction of multiple model language. Equations and graph are some of the models that scientists use to communicate an idea explicitly.

The article is explicit on the two language styles, but the only limitation that the author did not address is how the schools can accommodate the language differences within the students’ fraternity.

Students who are learning English as their second language are disadvantaged, and they require special attention from the teachers so that they can acquire academic language with ease.


Gee, J.P. (2008). What is Academic Language? [Riview of the book Teaching Science to English Language Learners by Rosebery Ann and Warren Beth]. NSTA, National Science Teacher Association, 56-69.