BCW teamAgency, Inquiry, learning, Visible Learning



ABC OF INQUIRY – LANGUAGE OF LEARNING  “The question of language has become the most important questions confronting us. ‘The whole curiosity of our thought now resides in the question. What is language, how can we find a way round it in order to make it appear in itself, in all its plenitude?’ Foucault, M. “The Order of Things”

LANGUAGE OF LEARNING: Sharing the meaning making…

When people engage with the development, change or understanding of an idea, perspective, skill or knowledge they are engaged in learning. In order to share this experience with others there needs to be a shared language of learning. A shared language helps people express and receive ideas clearly, wherein they become co-constructors of meaning.

Learning has a language that is unique to it as a process. This language can be shared in multimodal ways such as verbal, visual or performance. The shared language enables the composer and responder to have a shared understanding of the learning and the way the learning is being developed.

Each discipline and subject has a unique technical vocabulary. Each word, image, symbol or action  provides clear and concise information to those with the insider knowledges to decipher the information .  For members of a shared learning community they need to have the opportunity to develop a shared language that describes the HOW, WHAT, WHO and WHY connected to the learning process.

Learners who are encouraged and supported to name and co-construct the language of learning are able to share ideas clearly with one another, rather than just pass on facts and details. They are able to engage in metacognitive and reflective exercises that helps them understand the what, why, how and who of their own learning and therefore make informed choices about what next including an opportunity to actively use mistakes as launch-pads to new learning.

This ‘ABC of Inquiry’ dictionary has been about unpacking the hidden ideas connected to some of the technical and specialised language of teaching and learning. The interesting thing about words is that many people know the same words but have very different understandings of the deeper or hidden ideas in this language. It is this difference of ideas, that can simultaneously lead to interesting discoveries, frustrations, miscommunications and new insights.

Having a language is not just about having a set of words, it is about developing a shared understanding with others who know or are learning these same words. Itis important that communities of learners no only share the same words, but collaboratively co-research and develop a shared vocabulary they will then use to describe their thinking, understandings, perspectives, attitudes and skills.



Inquiry learning has a unique language that describes it actions and processes. Some of the technical vocabulary of learning is listed below. As an interesting exercise share some of these words or invite your class to develop a list of words of their own about learning, and then find out how each person in the class understands our uses these words.   Reflect on what is revealed in this activity with your class, and discuss how this might change, impact or effect how the learning community moves forward with new learning.

  • Act
  • Collaborate
  • Connect
  • Create
  • Elaborate
  • Engage
  • Evaluate
  • Evidence
  • Explore
  • Learner
  • Model
  • Reflect
  • Think

BeConWiz has strategy documents and resources on word webs if you are looking for ways to deconstruct language with your class.

*BCW will now use‘They,their — themself’ as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun in all subsequent material generated on our website.

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BeConWiz Ideas and Thoughts by Carla Holmes, Mary-Denese Holmes, Pearl Holmesis licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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