How to Start Academic Conversations

Zwiers, Jeff; Crawford, Marie
April 2009
Educational Leadership;Apr2009, Vol. 66 Issue 7, p70
The article discusses ways to improve the participation of English language learners (ELLs) in classroom discussions. The authors note attempts to improve conversational skills in ELLs in a California school district through paired conversations. They identify traits of conversations such as introducing a strong topic or theme, building on ideas and paraphrasing. Scaffolding techniques such as symbol cards were employed to encourage students to incorporate these elements into conversations. The authors note how students began to include information regarding the relevance of texts to their lives into conversations and to use advanced vocabulary and critical thinking in conversations.


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