Apply Language-Based Teaching Strategies in Science Class

“When teachers instruct the language in a given science unit, students can more easily understand the concepts. Language-based exercises and hands-on activities used in conjunction to teach science concepts offers students with language-based learning disabilities opportunities for success in science class.”

-Sophie Wilson, Landmark Elementary-Middle School
Science Department Head

Students with language-based learning disabilities often categorize science as one of their favorite subjects in school. Perhaps students enjoy science lessons because presentation of science concepts can be hands-on and visual, providing students with new concepts utilizing their preferred learning style. What student isn’t intrigued about the outcome of a chemical reaction that will result in some sort of eruption?

However, “students with language-based learning disabilities often demonstrate poor organization and study skills, poor retention and retrieval of science vocabulary and concepts, and difficulty following directions and managing long-term assignments. Deficits in these areas can lead to poor comprehension in science” (J. Kuhns & M. Gallivan, 2002). Using language-based teaching strategies in science class helps students with language-based learning disabilities comprehend often difficult science concepts and apply new vocabulary in their written and oral expression.

Try the following language-based teaching strategies in your science class:

  • Use cuing strategies for word retrieval and techniques for aiding sound awareness (phonology) and phonetic spelling.
  • Brainstorm and use guided discussion prior to reading and writing to aid word retrieval and activate prior knowledge.
  • Highlight theme-related vocabulary and concepts to enhance depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge.
  • Use graphic organizers (e.g., diagrams, charts, and templates) to facilitate critical thinking and formation of language.
  • Teach the text structure required for the writing assignment to facilitate the appropriate language framework for writing.
  • Use science content as a vehicle to teach and practice study skills (e.g., textbook use, notetaking, and test taking).
  • Incorporate hands-on multisensory activities to engage students with differing learning styles.

                                                      © Landmark School, S. Wilson, 2002

Resources to Download

Microscope Parts and their Functions:

The following activity incorporates a few of the teaching strategies from the list above.


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