Touro TESOL Candidate Liana Ignarro on Social vs Academic language

Putting Theory Into Practice

Touro’s Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and advanced certificate programs reflect two core principles: Praxis and community.

Every one of our programs meets the U.S. Department of Education’s most current curricular standards, and include plenty of fieldwork and preparation for New York State Education Department (NYSED) certification exams. Many programs offer online, evening, and weekend courses. We’re leaders in educating educators and meeting the needs of our communities.

Discussion Boards offer the opportunity not only to reflect on readings but also contribute with peer responses to the learning process of the course cohort. As a facilitator and educator, I pursue a variety of strategies for fostering student engagement. One approach is to emphasize the quality and thoughtfulness of responses over quantity and frequency. Touro TESOL Candidate Liana Ignarro submitted thoughtful responses and analyses to the readings.

Touro TESOL Candidate Liana Ignarro is a graduate student at Touro College’s TESOL program. She had the opportunity to fill roles in the Eastport South Manor School District as a permanent substitute teacher. Ms. Ignarro teaches Pre-K through SCOPE’S Education Services. During her free time, she enjoys working out and spending time with her family.

  1. Have you had any students who were proficient in social language but struggled with academic language?
  2. If so, how did their social and academic language use differ?
  3. Did anything in their language abilities surprise you?
  4. What are some examples that could be used to compare social and academic language in your classroom?

I have had students who were proficient in social language but struggled with academic language. Their language uses differ because in social settings students were able to have conversations and form sentences using correct word structure. However, one particular student struggled with writing. The student often needed sentence starters to assist him. This was not surprising to me as I knew the primary home language was Spanish. A strategy that I learned from the article, Academic Language and ELLs: What Teachers Need to Know, explains how Dr. Robin Scarcella helps her students understand the difference between social and academic language. She does this by providing her students with similar sentences that portray the same meaning. They are just written in different styles. 

Celce-Murcia Chapter edition 4 Chapter 1: What changes have occurred regarding the teaching of:

  1. a) pronunciation- According to the text, it states that language learning is viewed as rule acquisition, not habit formation. When students speak, their pronunciation is deemphasized and perfection is viewed as unrealistic and unattainable. To help students, listening comprehension is important and a basic skill and it will allow speaking, reading, and writing to develop. 
  • b) grammar- There are key elements of the grammar-translation approach. For example, instruction is given in the native language of the students, there is little use of the target language for communication, the focus is on grammatical parsing. In other words, the forms and inflection of words. The result of this approach is usually an inability on the part of the student to use the language for communication. (Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D. M., & Snow, M. A. (2014)
  • c) vocabulary in the many approaches discussed in this chapter- Vocabulary learning is stressed at intermediate and advanced levels. When students work in groups or pairs they can discover the meaning in situations by engaging in role play or dramatization. 

Celce-Murcia Chapter edition 4 Chapter 2: How is Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) related to other proficiency-based approaches to language teaching?

Communicative language teaching is defined as an approach to language teaching that emphasizes learning a language first and foremost for the purpose of communicating with others.

A framework/model that arose alongside Communicative Language Teaching is the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). This model consisted of communication, cultures, connections, comparison, and communities. Each component represents an interlocking knowledge domain for language education.

Like CLT, learning theories informing the model underscored both top-down and bottom-up orientations to learning and processing language. 


Breiseth, Lydia. (2021, May 10). Academic language and ells: What teachers need to know.

Colorín Colorado. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from 

Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D. M., & Snow, M. A. (2014). Teaching English as a second or foreign language. Boston: National geographic learning.

Author: drcowinj

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today,” determined Malcolm X at the O.A.A.U.’s [Organization of Afro-American Unity] founding forum at the Audubon Ballroom. (June 28, 1964). (X, n.d.) Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin a Fulbright Scholar, SIT Graduate, completed the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP™) at Columbia University, Teachers College. Dr. Cowin served as the President of the Rotary Club of New York and Assistant Governor for New York State; long-term Chair of the Rotary United Nations International Breakfast meetings; and works as an Assistant Professor at Touro College, Graduate School of Education. Dr. Cowin has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator, tech innovator, entrepreneur, and institutional leader with a focus on equity and access to digital literacy and education in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Her extensive background in education, administration, not-for-profit leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and technology innovation provide her with unique skills and vertical networks locally and globally. Dr. Cowin participates fully in the larger world of TESOL academic discipline as elected Vice President and Chair-Elect for the New York State, NYS TESOL organization, for the 2021 conference. Ongoing research, expressed in scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through publications, presentations, and participation in academic conferences, blogging, and other scholarly activities, including public performances and exhibitions at conferences and workshops. Of particular interest to her are The Blockchain of Things and its implications for Higher Education; Current Global Trends in TESOL; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English; E-learning; Micro and Macro-Methodologies in TESOL; E-Resources Discovery and Analysis; and Language Acquisition and the Oculus Rift in VR.

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