Can you develop chemistry

Lessons school year 5-10

Sylvia Feil


Develop technical language and promote it in a language-sensitive manner

In chemistry class, energy should certainly not be consumed, but only converted. But how can the hurdles be reconstructed? How do you succeed in becoming aware of the language and analyzing its individual tasks in class? It conveys learning content, forms itself when thinking and puts into words what should be communicated. How can it be supported that everyday language develops technical language?

In chemistry class, teachers don't think of language training first. The technical language often represents a hurdle for learners and should be taken into account as a learning objective. Language-sensitive teaching is aware of this and promotes inclusive teaching for heterogeneous groups of pupils.

(Technical) language has many functions

In addition to visually observing an experiment, speaking is divided into different steps: describing, analyzing, discussing or even asking questions. Sharpening a feeling for how everyday language develops technical language is a crucial process.

From a didactic point of view, it is worth taking a look at how abstraction is formed, from technical understanding to verbalization and symbolic or mathematical representation. Practical experiments play an important role, especially in lower secondary level: They serve to illustrate and enable the learning path from the object to a visual language to be understood. Only then does verbalization follow, which evolves from everyday language to technical language.

The challenge of heterogeneity

The heterogeneity of the learners makes it necessary to be more sensitive to the language. A little trick makes it understandable how difficult it can be to transfer what you observe into language. Describe the diffusion using a tea bag in hot versus cold water, for example in English! For some, this will initially be easier to do in everyday language or a language based on the classroom. Technical terms such as particle speed (particle velocity) will have to be looked up with a certain probability.

It is therefore not surprising that particularly in the area of ​​“German as a foreign or second language” there are good didactic suggestions for language-sensitive specialist teaching. The framing by teaching materials plays a special role here in relation to the heterogeneity. As a group work, posters can be created that present the rough structure of a test protocol as scaffolding, or games on index cards that contain the linguistic frameworks of correct descriptions.

Anyone who would like to develop their own learning materials, for example using learning apps, can do more than just create fill-in-the-blank texts. Puzzles can be created digitally or assignment questions can be created. Pupils could collaboratively create a glossary in an Etherpad or Wiki - or work it out as a poster for the classroom.


Teaching material on the topic Jargon can be found in the special issue of the same name.

To the magazine

For further reading

Examples and references from the Quality and Support Agency - State Institute for Schools (QUA-LiS NRW)

Specific information on chemistry lessons and further literature in Woerfel, Till & Giesau, Marlis (2018). Language-sensitive lessons. Cologne: Mercator Institute for Language Promotion and German as a Second Language (basic knowledge of linguistic education).

Offer to create graphically appealing interactive tasks yourself (web-based): LearningApps

Lessons school year 5-10