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Learning language through science or learning science through language: What can three theories tell us?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Language Education.
2011 (English)In: Harmony in diversity: language, culture, society, 2011Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this study is to examine how three analysis tools used, i.e. practical epistemology analysis (PEA), systemic functional linguistics (SFL) and thematic patterns (TP), contribute to our knowledge of children's use of of language in relation to learning science. Learning science implies learning to distinguish between everyday use of langugage and the specific scientific language (Halliday & Martin, 1993; Lemke, 1990; Veel, 1997; Schleppegrell, 2004). An analysis of what children are afforded to learn in the discourse of science is hence of interest. A practical epistemology analysis takes its stance in Dewey, the later Wittgenstein and socio-cultural perspectives and implies that words get their meaning in use and action (Wickman & Östman, 2002; Wickman, 2004). Moreover, Dewey's (1938/1997) principal of continuity is essential for studying the direction learning takes. Systemic functional linguistics is concerned with language use in diverse cultural and social contexts (Halliday, 1985; Martin, 1992) focussing both system and text. The meaning system of language is seen as a potential enabling the analyst to consider texts in the light of linguistic choices. Studying thematic patterns involves understanding the relation between words in use (Lemke, 1990). We present results from a primary science class involved in hands-on inquiry in the unit "Soil". The results show how the children moved between everyday and scientific use of language. Mostly the discourse merged making the children's learning of the subject difficult.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
language, practical epistemology analysis, science, systemic functional linguistics, thematic patterns
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Science Education; Language Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-127013OAI: diva2:905047
AILA, the 16th World Congress of Applied Linguistics
Available from: 2016-02-21 Created: 2016-02-21 Last updated: 2016-02-21

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