Recently, I attended a professional development meeting on teaching to English Language Learners. I was struck by how much “language” we actually teach in our physics classrooms. Students must master our personal abbreviations (“RATN” means “read and take notes” in my class, for example.) They must learn the correct meaning of words that are often misused in casual conversations. A great example of this is the word acceleration. In physics, this term has a much wider meaning than students are used to. Students often believe that acceleration means only to speed up. Of course, acceleration is a broader term meaning defined as the rate of change of the velocity and can mean speeding up, slowing down, and/or changing direction. And then there is the language of equations. Knowing what the letters mean in an equation is a skill that is also necessary to be successful in physics.

The workshop presenter...

Supplementary Material

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