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

Main Article Content

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.

Article Details

Research / Empirical
Author Biographies

Cindi Smith-Walters, Middle Tennessee State University

Full Professor Biology Department

Director MTSU Center for Environmental Education

Teaches a content course for elementary and middle grades pre-service teachers, a course that focuses on using the laboratory and schoolgrounds to teach inquiry science for middle grades math and science pre-service teachers, and environmental problems for both biology and other majors.

Alyson Smith Bass, Middle Tennessee State University

Associate Professor of Literacy Education

Department of Elementary and Special Education 

Katherine A. Mangione, Middle Tennessee State University

Assistant Professor of Education 

Department of Elementary and Special Education