Science and Language Special Issue: Challenges in Preparing Preservice Teachers for Teaching Science as a Second Language

Cindi Smith-Walters, Alyson Smith Bass, Katherine A. Mangione


Science is a subject steeped in specialized vocabulary and elementary preservice teachers may find themselves less than comfortable with that vocabulary. Couple this with their long documented fear of the subject and we have teachers who enter their first classrooms unsure of themselves and the content and thus, less able to prepare their own students.  Common challenges these new teachers face include the specialized vocabulary of science, the speed at which words are introduced as well as the sheer vocabulary load of the subject, and the difficulty of English language learners attempting to learn science. This article suggests vocabulary strategies for each challenge and advocates for the incorporation of modified Total Physical Response methods when teaching science content.  These suggestions will help science educators relieve the stress preservice teachers find when attempting to learn the language of science.


total physical response; preservice science teachers;vocabulary load; specialized vocabulary; English language learners and science; teacher preparation; learning science vocabulary

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