Language, Disciplinary Literacy and Corpora: Supporting Teaching and Learning

Project: Other

Project Details


The under-achievement of learners from low socio-economic and English as an Additional Language (EAL) learner’s backgrounds is an entrenched problem in the UK. A key factor is the control of the language and the ability to write coherently and convincingly within a discipline. Language is the primary resource for accessing, displaying ways of knowing and understanding a discipline; and the assessment of high stakes exams (GCSE, A Level and IB) is based on written language. Academic language is no one’s first language and is demanding regardless of learners’ cultural and linguistic background. Some students display the knowledge and understand the subject, but then fall short when writing in exams. Furthermore, although subject teachers have an in-depth knowledge of their discipline, many lack an understanding of the disciplinary literacy (that is being able to read and write in the academic language of that discipline) requirements and effective ways to explicitly teach language that enables their students to talk and write like a biologist, or a geographer, historian, etc.
Research findings demonstrate that the explicit teaching of discipline-specific language can have a considerable positive impact on learners and lead to improved GCSE results (Forey, 2020; Forey & Cheung 2019). This project will make a difference by empowering teachers to design teaching material and employ effective pedagogies drawing from our research in language education (Forey 2020, Forey & Cheung, 2019; Forey & Polias 2017; Firkins, Forey & Sengupta, 2007; He & Forey 2018; Polias & Forey 2016) and corpus-based pedagogies (Jablonkai, 2020; Jablonkai & Cebron, 2017; 2021; Jablonkai & Csomay, 2022). Corpus-based pedagogy is the integration of technology to use large digital databases of relevant texts in teaching. The unique combination of disciplinary literacy with corpus-based pedagogies will be extremely effective in supporting the development of disciplinary literacy (Jablonkai & Csomay, 2022). At recent conferences where we were keynote invited speakers (Forey 2022a, 2022b, 2020; Jablonkai 2022), we received requests from schools for further collaboration for the development of tools and effective pedagogic frameworks. In response, the present impact study aims to build capacity of secondary school teachers of three disciplines (History, Biology and Geography) that equips them with tools, skills and knowledge related to disciplinary literacy and corpus-based pedagogies.

Through this project we will engage in:
-Capacity-building interviews, SWOT analysis focussing on teachers’ disciplinary literacy and corpus-based pedagogy needs.
-Knowledge brokering workshops - scaffolding the professional development (PD) of teachers
-Involving teachers in an ongoing reflection of the innovative pedagogy, disciplinary literacy and corpus resources.
-Co-create toolkits and online open access educational resources for teachers, including mentoring and reviewing the impact of these resources.
- Launch an open access resource, with hands on training for a wider audience. - Showcase the value and impact of disciplinary literacy and corpus-based pedagogy.
Short title£10,000
StatusNot started


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