Writing the science register and multiple levels of language: Implications for English learners

Elaine R. Silliman, Louise C. Wilkinson, Maria Brea-Spahn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

9 Scopus citations


This chapter highlights the critical functions that the multiple levels of language play in scientific writing in general and, specifically, in the thinking, development, and expression of scientific literacy by all students, especially English learners. Writing, as the medium of expression through which concepts are translated into written language, has received minimal attention in the literature on how students learn to do science. The chapter focuses on five interrelated topics: (1) implications of the NGSS for learning to write in the science register; (2) multiple dimensions of language as central for understanding varied purposes of science literacy; (3) an approach to science as a specialized academic language register that all students, especially English learners, must master; (4) a writing model that interfaces with the multiple language levels of the science register, illustrated by a chemistry report drafted by a 15-year-old; and (5) a discussion of best practices that have the potential to meet the writing needs of English learners in doing science. The chapter suggests instructional directions for teachers to consider as they orchestrate multiple language levels in science writing and address the needs of English learners who are learning to navigate writing within the science register.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLanguage, Literacy, and Learning in the STEM Disciplines
Subtitle of host publicationHow Language Counts for English Learners
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781351979603
ISBN (Print)9781138284289
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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