Characteristics of the language of schooling
Especially for ‘vulnerable’ learners, the language used at school is in many ways a barrier to reach their potential (Cummins 1979). Describing, comparing, evaluating, analysing etc. are examples of discourse functions that students must master in subject classes. The importance and content of different functions may vary from subject to subject. For example, in history it may be important to describe events and to explain causes and effects. In mathematics on the other hand, it is sometimes necessary to describe processes, for instance a step-by-step description of how to add fractions with different denominators, as well as to define abstract terms.