Educational language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Educational language is a formal linguistic register that is also used outside of the educational context - in high-quality writings or public pronouncements. That said, it is not only used in educational institutions. Educational language tends to include characteristics of written language, even if it is spoken orally. The purpose of educational language is to convey highly condensed, sophisticated information in situations in which one cannot refer to the context . According to Jürgen Habermas (1977), the language of education is the linguistic register in which one can acquire basic orientation knowledge with the means of school education.

Everyday understanding of educational language

The term “educational language” in itself is not new. In everyday language use, an understanding is widespread that can also be found in educational writings in the 19th and 20th centuries. It defines the language of education as “high” and “pure” language. What is meant above all is the language used by the educated and “better” classes, in contrast to “dialect”, which is considered the language of the lower social classes.

Differentiation from other forms of language

The educational language differs from colloquial or everyday language on the one hand by its high level of conceptual writing , on the other hand by a vocabulary that includes technical language . According to Habermas, the latter is acquired through the acquisition of special knowledge in a certain subject area (for example during vocational training through a special technical vocabulary). The language of education differs from the technical language insofar as it is accessible to everyone who can acquire a kind of "orientation knowledge" with the means of (higher) school education . This is conveyed in the school language and describes the ability to transfer special knowledge into the context of one's own living environment. The school language is reflected in teacher-student communication and is based on the written language . It is more abstract and diverse than everyday language, and it is also themed. Under scientific language , the language is in research papers and research understood. It is part of the language of education; both influence each other.

The educational language therefore results from the interplay between everyday, school and technical language as well as to a lesser extent from the scientific language and has the function of introducing specialist knowledge into meaningful everyday interpretations. From this it follows that mastering the educational language is beneficial for everyday life, as difficult and demanding contexts of meaning can be penetrated linguistically and information can be processed through it.


In the history of education , the language with which education was conveyed was not always the mother tongue. In ancient times , Greek was considered the language of education. In Western Europe, Latin was the general language of education in the Middle Ages and early modern times . Even the Arab has long been in the Arab-Persian-Indian space as an educational language, since the Koran is written in Arabic and thus access to education ( madrasas allowed). Due to the cultural dominance of France in the 17th and 18th centuries, the French also had an important function that is still alive today in many of the former French colonies. With the modern development of the nation state and later with the introduction of public schools and compulsory schooling, the national languages ​​gained importance as teaching languages. Today, English has a strong position in education around the world.

Features of educational language

Hans H. Reich, a Germanist and specialist in German as a second language, offered the first approaches to systematising the characteristics of educational language (based on Reich 2008):

Discursive features relate to the framework and the forms that are characteristic of educational language, e.g. B .:

  • a clear definition of speaker roles and speaker changes;
  • a high proportion of monological forms (e.g. lecture, presentation, essay);
  • Types of text typical of the specialist group (e.g. minutes, reports, discussions);
  • stylistic conventions (e.g. objectivity, logical structure, appropriate text length).

Lexical-semantic features (peculiarities of the vocabulary and individual meanings):

  • differentiating and abstracting expressions (e.g. 'transport up' instead of 'bring up');
  • Prefix verbs, including many with an inseparable prefix and with reflexive pronouns (e.g. 'heat', 'unfold', 'relate');
  • nominal compositions (e.g. 'protractor');
  • standardized technical terms (e.g. 'right-angled'; 'rule of three').

Syntactic features (special features in sentence structure):

  • explicit markings of cohesion (i.e. of the textual context);
  • Sentence structures (e.g. conjunction clauses, relative clauses, extended infinitives);
  • impersonal constructions (e.g. passive sentences, man sentences);
  • Functional verb structure (e.g. 'to explode', 'subject to a test', 'put into operation');
  • extensive attributes (e.g. 'the Richter scale, which is open to the top', 'the resulting conclusion').


  • Feilke, Helmuth, (2012): Educational language skills - promoting and developing. In: Praxis Deutsch. Issue 233, pp. 4-13.
  • Gogolin, Ingrid (2010): What is educational language ?. In: Elementary School German. Issue 4. pp. 4–5.
  • Gogolin, Ingrid and Lange, Imke: Educational language and continuous language education. In: Fürstenau, Sara / Gomolla, Mechthild (eds.): Migration and school change: multilingualism. VS-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2011, pp. 107–127.
  • Habermas, Jürgen (1977): Colloquial language, scientific language, educational language. In: Yearbook of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science. Pp. 36-51.

Web links

Wiktionary: Educational language  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. cf. Ingrid Gogolin, Imke Lange: Educational language and continuous language education. In: Sara Fürstenau, Mechthild Gomolla (ed.): Migration and school change: multilingualism . VS-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2011, p. 107 f.
  2. cf. Ingrid Gogolin, Imke Lange: Educational language and continuous language education. In: Sara Fürstenau, Mechthild Gomolla (ed.): Migration and school change: multilingualism . VS-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2011, p. 113f.