Resource Library Resource Library

Academic Language Academic Language

What is academic language? Importance to MLs SupportEd’s approach

Academic language is the language used in classroom settings to acquire new knowledge and skills, interact with a topic, and share information with others. Academic language is broken down into several levels: word/phrase, sentence, discourse, and sociocultural context.

If multilingual learners (MLs) are going to effectively engage with complex, grade-level texts and complete standards-based content tasks, they need to develop understanding of the academic language in each dimension necessary for these tasks. By teaching academic language, MLs gain access to the language of power and open doors to post-secondary opportunities.

In order to teach academic language, you must be able to identify the language demands of the text and tasks MLs will be engaging with in the unit or lesson. SupportEd provides various solutions and practical tools to help build your understanding of  strategies to support your MLs’ English language development. For a more detailed understanding of supporting academic language development for MLs, checkout chapters 5 and 6 of Unlocking Multilingual Learners’ Potential.

academic language illustration

Printables Printables

Academic Language




Academic Vocabulary


Supporting MLs’ Academic-Language Development in Speaking and Writing


Books Books

Unlocking Multilingual Learners’ Potential: Strategies for Making Content Accessible Unlocking Multilingual Learners’ Potential: Strategies for Making Content Accessible

In this eagerly anticipated revision of their bestselling book, authors Diane Staehr Fenner, Sydney Snyder, and Meghan Gregoire-Smith share dynamic, research-backed strategies that every educator of multilingual learners (MLs) can add to their repertoire. Including more of what educators loved from the first edition—authentic classroom examples, a wide variety of research-based instructional strategies, and practical tools to implement across grade levels and content areas—this is the ultimate practical guide to unlocking the potential of MLs in K-12 classrooms.

Self-Paced Learning Self-Paced Learning

Unlocking Multilingual
Learners’ Potential

Online Book Study

Strategies for Building MLs’ Academic Language

Online Course

strategies for building English learners' academic language online course

Webinars Webinars

Embedding Academic Language for Multilingual Learners (MLs) Embedding Academic Language for Multilingual Learners (MLs)

Learn the best practices around delivering thoughtful and systematic academic language instruction for MLs. Synthesize highlights from research and the classroom to uncover teaching strategies at the word, sentence, and discourse levels.

Presenter: Diane Staehr Fenner, PhD

Articles Articles

Teaching Academic Vocabulary to Multilingual Learners: A Q&A with Sydney Snyder Teaching Academic Vocabulary to Multilingual Learners: A Q&A with Sydney Snyder

Which vocabulary words should be used to teach MLs, and how should those words be introduced and practiced? Dr. Sydney Snyder, principal associate at SupportEd and co-author of Unlocking Multilingual Learners’ Potential, provides the following expert answers for ML educators.