Understanding Language Use in the Classroom A Linguistic Guide for College Educators Author: Susan J. Behrens

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01 May 2014
Multilingual Matters
210 x 148


It is clear that a proper understanding of what academic English is and how to use it is crucial for success in college, and yet students face multiple obstacles in acquiring this new 'code', not least that their professors often cannot agree amongst themselves on a definition and a set of rules. Understanding Language Use in the Classroom aims to bring the latest findings in linguistics research on academic English to educators from other disciplines, and to help them help their students learn and achieve. Behrens combines a powerful argument for the importance of explicit teaching of language skills in college with answers to common questions from professors and students, as well as sample teaching materials to help make these issues come alive in the classroom.


Behrens provides a wealth of practical information about linguistics, the language of schooling, and the history of the study of their intersection for a diverse audience – educators and students of all stripes. The book and its rich resources demonstrate how the field of linguistics is stretching beyond its traditional borders in productive ways.

- Kristin Denham, Western Washington University, USA

From the opening chapter on the fundamental role played by academic English in higher education to the final section containing study sheets, additional resources and a comprehensive glossary, this highly accessible book addresses a real gap in the literature by outlining and providing solutions for the linguistic obstacles faced by our students. This is essential reading for educators around the world working with academic English and deserves to reach a very wide audience.

- Kerry Mullan, RMIT University, Australia

Susan Behrens' brilliant book is a concise, comprehensive guide for professors in all disciplines who are working to help students understand and express themselves in the academic language that is so crucial to college-level achievement. The first section of the book provides an overview of the language of academe. Then the rest of the book provides the tools for readers with no previous knowledge of linguistics to work with students' language in the context of their academic work. This book is an important contribution to the pedagogy of post-secondary education.

- Sandra Wilde, City University of New York, USA

This volume meets a real need in applied linguistics as it links knowledge of linguistics to effective teaching. The author’s strongly held viewpoint that college instructors should have a background in the workings of language is supported by the material presented in the book. Beyond that, very clear and practical examples on applying the material covered in the classroom setting are presented. Put simply, this very concise, well organized, and well researched book achieves its intended aim. In sum, this is an outstanding book. 

- LINGUIST List 26.728 http://linguistlist.org/issues/26/26-728.html - Martin R. Gitterman, The City University of New York, USA

Behrens has written an accessible, well-organized, well-researched book...In short, what Behrens has masterfully done is to translate the esoterica of linguistics into accessible language, just as she asserts the need for teachers to do the same (make academic language accessible to students) in their own discourse.  All teachers—K-12 or college—in all subject areas would become better at building communication skills in their classrooms, as well as in professional discourse, by reading this very readable book. 

- Journal of the Assembly for the Teaching of English Grammar, 2015 - Amy Benjamin, former president of ATEG

Author Biography:

Susan J. Behrens is Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Co-Director of the Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence, Marymount Manhattan College, New York, USA. She contributes to The New York Times Learning Network and The New York Times in the First Year. Her publications include Grammar: A Pocket Guide (Routledge 2010) and Language in the Real World: An Introduction to Linguistics (with Judith A. Parker, Routledge 2010).

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate

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