issues are very complex, yet it is important that children
develop understandings about them, so that they can
play a part in looking after the planet. Boyes and Stanisstreet
(1996) suggest that as a first step we should consider
the vocabulary we use. Teachers need to ensure that
the language they use is accessible to students but
at the same time helps students develop a "scientific
vocabulary". Simple activities aimed specifically
at vocabulary development can be helpful.
important biological terms are explained briefly below.
is the study of how living things interact with each
other and their environment. Biologists use the word
environment to cover all the living and non-living
factors that affect the living things (organisms) in
is a system consisting of living and non-living things
that interact with one another. Ecosystems can be large
(like the rocky shore) or small (like a rotten log).
All ecosystems share important characteristics. The
sum of all ecosystems makes up the biosphere –
the part of planet Earth that can sustain life. The
biosphere stretches from the bottom of the ocean into
All the living things
in an ecosystem are known as a community. All
the individuals of a particular species in the community
make up a population. (NB Biologists use these
2 words with meanings that are slightly different from
their everyday use).
A useful framework for
developing academic language with bilingual students
was described by Cummins (2000). He suggested that first
there needs to be a focus on meaning, followed
by a focus on language and then a focus on use.
It seems likely such an approach could be useful
with all students learning the "language of science".
Boyes, E., & Stanisstreet, M.
(1990). Misunderstandings of 'Law' and 'Conservation': a
study of pupils' meanings for these terms. SSR, 72(258),
Cummins, J. (2000) Language Power
and Pedagogy: Bilingual Children in the Crossfire.
England, Multilingual Matters Ltd.