Specialization III: Literacy in Professional Education
If one looks at the subject structure of the general education school system, there seems to be strong distinctions between language subjects, general studies subjects, humanities, and artistic/kinesthetic subjects. However, language is relevant for every kind of learning, in every subject. Thus, its role cannot be restricted to language education subjects. In every subject, language is a prerequisite for learning, a learning resource, and a learning objective. This applies all the more if one is aware of the following 4 phenomena:
- School performance studies indicate that subject-specific skills and language skills are strongly related. This leads to the conclusion that language-supporting measures also benefit subject-specific learning.
- Above all, the development of educational language skills cuts across all subjects. Educational language skills enable active participation in an increasingly scientific, complex world.
- All school subjects always have not only their own subject-specific requirements but also linguistic ones. People speak, write, argue, present, discuss, debate, and, in the process, negotiate subject-specific meanings.
- In Germany, largely due to migration, school instruction is given to a linguistically heterogeneous student body. This is especially true in urban areas such as Hamburg. The term “multilingualism in the student body” comprises a broad spectrum of language experiences; this includes monolingualism in a language other than German and developed literacy in German and one or more other languages of origin. There is a high level of diversity of linguistic repertoires and language acquisition constellations.
In subject-specific instruction, teachers often do not explicitly promote students’ linguistic skills but take them for granted. On the other hand, linguistic-explicit subject-specific instruction sets visible linguistic learning objectives for all, clarifies the connection with the subject learning content in ever-new ways, and ultimately leads to the creation of developed educational linguistic registers and subject-specific linguistic registers.
The research activities in this area of focus examine, for example, the relationship between linguistic prerequisites and learning success, the effect of linguistic-explicit support measures in subject-specific instructions and their differential effects, and the linguistic properties of learning materials for the acquisition of subject-specific skills and linguistic skills.