Academic Literacies and Adolescent Learners: English for Subject-Matter Secondary Classrooms

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Enright, Kerry Anne
TESOL Quarterly
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01-12-2015 2:55 PM
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Comprehensive high schools are extremely complex sites for the teaching and learning of academic literacies. However, current policy mandates emphasizing standards and accountability mask this complexity. Legislation such as No Child Left Behind in the United States and similar initiatives in other countries narrow the curriculum through their emphasis on the teaching and assessment of discrete skills and features of language. Students in secondary schools represent another level of complexity, especially adolescents who are learning English as an additional language. When skills-based perspectives on literacy dominate public discourse and pervade state-approved curricula, researchers of academic literacy often invest greater effort in examining the negative impact of such ideologies than in exploring how teachers can incorporate broader repertoires of literacy practices in their classrooms within the very real constraints of this policy context. They often dismiss the current context entirely, engaging only in critique, rather than examining it carefully to find niches and practices that can advance the academic literacies of multilingual learners in such classrooms. They are much more likely to influence the ideologies behind language and literacy policies if they focus on the level of praxis, where research and practice inform and respond to one another to advance the academic literacies of language learners in high school classrooms. This article is one such attempt to examine issues of academic literacy for adolescent learners through a lens of research, grounded in practice.
Secondary Education
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