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Language Correlates of Disciplinary Literacy

Fang, Zhihui

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0b013e31824501de
Disciplinary Literacy

Disciplinary literacy is defined here as the ability to engage in social, semiotic, and cognitive practices consistent with those of content experts. Characterizing literacy development as a process of braiding 3 language strands of everyday language, abstract language, and metaphoric language, this article describes the lexical and grammatical patterns typical of disciplinary texts in the subjects of language arts, science, mathematics, and history, showing how language is used in discipline-specific ways to present knowledge, construe value, and create specialized texts. It argues that literacy instruction in academic disciplines should move beyond the time-honored focus on basic skills (e.g., vocabulary, fluency), general cognitive strategies (e.g., predicting, inferencing), and generic learning strategies (e.g., highlighting, note taking) to embrace an emphasis on discipline-specific practices that promote simultaneous engagement with disciplinary language and disciplinary content.

School of Teaching and Learning, University of Florida, Gainesville.

Corresponding Author: Zhihui Fang, PhD, School of Teaching and Learning, College of Education, 2423 Norman Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 (

The author has disclosed that he has no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins