Special Issue "Languages and Literacies in Science Education"

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Assoc. Prof. Kok-Sing Tang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
STEM Education Research Group, Curtin University, Perth, 6102, Australia
Interests: classroom discourse; disciplinary literacy; multimodality; representation; scientific explanation; argumentation; STEM literacies
Prof. Dr. Kristina Danielsson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Language Education, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Interests: classroom discourse; disciplinary literacy; multimodality; social semiotics
Prof. Dr. Angel M. Y. Lin
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, V5A 1S6, BC, Canada
Interests: content and language integrated learning (CLIL); translanguaging; trans-semiotizing; social semiotics; classroom discourse; socioscientific issues (SSI); socioscientific reasoning (SSR); academic literacies; critical literacies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The language of science (including non-verbal representations) plays an important role in mediating science teaching and learning. Scientific interpretation requires an understanding of the specialized lexicon, grammar, and genre used in scientific writing (Fang 2005), as well as the implicit conventions encoded in scientific diagrams (Tang, Won and Treagust, 2019). Engagement in scientific practices (e.g., explanation, argumentation) is also “language intensive and requires students to participate in classroom science discourse” (NGSS Lead States 2013). Last but not least, the technocratic nature of scientific language privileges and marginalizes various groups of people, for example, according to their gender, language background, and ethnic identities (Lemke 1990).

Over the years, our theoretical understanding of language has expanded significantly to encompass a broad and diverse view of “languages and literacies” in the plural (Lemke 2004; New London Group 1996). This expands the area of research on language issues within science education to include: (a) the languages of students’ cultures and communities, including their local vernaculars, standardized national languages, and everyday terms and registers, (b) the languages of specific disciplines (e.g., science, mathematics) that have unique ontological, epistemological, linguistic and pedagogical characteristics and challenges, and (c) the languages of multimodal representations consisting of speech, written words, images, symbols, graphs, gestures, and physical objects that are integral to learning. Each of these cultural, disciplinary and representational languages requires a different set of literacy skills and instructions, in order for students to become successful in science. These three areas of language and literacy often overlap and intertwine with one another in complex ways. The increasing convergence of these research areas presents a timely opportunity for researchers to discuss their theories and empirical findings in this Special Issue.

Examples of topics for this Special Issue can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Bilingual/multilingual science learners
  • Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) and other language immersion programs for science teaching
  • Discourse studies in the science classroom
  • Language of scientific practices (e.g., explanation, argumentation, investigation)
  • Multimodal texts and digital media for science learning
  • Multimodal discourse analysis of texts, gestures, diagrams, etc.
  • Mutiple representations and student-generated representation pedagogy
  • Reading-to-learn and/or writing-to-learn in science
  • Role of language in emotional engagement and identity in science
  • Science disciplinary literacy; literacy instruction in science
  • Scientific communication in public domains and classrooms
  • Scientific literacy in a post-truth era
  • Socioscientific reasoning and critical literacies
  • Teacher development in language issues; literacy pedagogical content knowledge (LPCK)
  • Translanguaging and trans-semiotizing in the science classroom

We welcome quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods studies, as well as theoretical papers. Interested authors are welcome to discuss their ideas with the Guest Editors before submitting their manuscripts.


Fang, Z. (2005). Scientific literacy: A systemic functional linguistics perspective. Science Education, 89(2), 335-347.

Lemke, J. L. (2004). The literacies of science. In E. W. Saul (Ed.), Crossing borders in literacy and science instruction: Perspectives on theory and practice (pp. 33–47). Newark, DE: International Reading Association ; NSTA Press.

New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66, 60-92.

NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press

Tang, K. S., Won, M., & Treagust, D. F. (2019). Analytical Framework for Student-Generated Drawings International Journal of Science Education. doi:10.1080/09500693.2019.1672906

Assoc. Prof. Kok-Sing Tang
Prof. Dr. Kristina Danielsson
Prof. Dr. Angel M. Y. Lin
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Education Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • classroom discourse
  • content and language integrated learning (CLIL)
  • disciplinary literacy
  • discourse analysis
  • language of science
  • multilingual science learners
  • multimodality
  • representation and semiotic
  • scientific literacy
  • socioscientific reasoning

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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